Release Date: February 10, 2012
Rating: PG (for some adventure action and brief mild language)
Genre: Adventure/Action, Family, Sequel
Run Time: 94 min.
Director: Brad Peyton
Actors: Josh Hutcherson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Luis Guzman, Vanessa Hudgens, Kristin Davis, Anna Colwell, Stephen Caudill

As the sequel to 2008’s surprise hit Journey to the Center of the Earth, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is loosely—very loosely—based on Jules Verne’s classic adventure novels.

While a movie like this could potentially make a compelling case for why kids should be reading the books that inspired these big-screen adventures, one can’t help wondering why the filmmakers didn’t take a few more cues from the oh-so-imaginative Verne himself.

After all, unless the viewer has a high tolerance for cheese or is under the age of 12, there’s little actual joy in this Journey. In fact, anything resembling it has been replaced with a slew of one-dimensional characters, dialogue that’s clunky at best, and in the absence of any real laughs, we’ve got The Rock, Dwayne Johnson (Fast Five) teaching his girlfriend’s (Kristin Davis, Sex and the City 2) sulky teenage son Sean (Josh Hutcherson, The Kids Are Alright) how to woo a girl by repeatedly popping his oh-so-beefcakey pecs.

Are you laughing yet? Didn’t think so.

Since Brendan Fraser (Furry Vengeance) wisely skipped the festivities this time around, it takes another one of Sean’s adventurous relatives to officially kickstart the story. After intercepting a radio signal from his grandfather (Michael Caine, Cars 2) who has apparently traveled to somewhere in the South Pacific in search of the mysterious island that’s very real to fans of Verne’s novel like himself, Sean wants to rush off to find him—pronto. And like any good parent, Sean’s mom, not to mention her boyfriend Hank who’s quickly becoming a father figure of sorts, object.

But like most pre-teens, Sean is nothing but persistent and will do just about anything to get his way. So in the absence of other options, like putting your foot down, a compromise is struck with Hank agreeing to join Sean on the trip. While Sean isn’t exactly happy with the arrangement initially, his attitude shifts considerably once the helicopter is booked. Armed with the coordinates his grandfather sent, Sean surprisingly doesn’t object to a surprise guest, namely the pilot’s (Luis Guzman, Arthur) beautiful daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens, Beastly) the perfect age-appropriate crush.

While things are going swimmingly at first, it doesn’t take long for disaster to find its way to them. After a rather unusual storm sends them plummeting to the island (thankfully, there aren’t any major injuries), the real adventure now begins. Featuring a rather motley crew of characters with everything from an angry lizard to tiny elephants to an arachnophobe’s greatest fear, a larger-than-life spider stirring the proverbial pot, it doesn’t take long for Sean and Co. to realize they’re in over their heads.

Like its predecessor, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is in 3-D, which provides countless opportunities for random things to fly in the face of the audience, but not much else. And while the sheer range of colors used to make the island pop is nothing short of impressive, the storyline could’ve used that same attention to detail. While suspending your disbelief is a regular part of the film-going experience, the leaps of logic made in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island are nothing short of ridiculous.