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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

By
John P. McCarthy
Source: Catholic News Service


Josh Hutcherson, Michael Caine and Dwayne Johnson star in a scene from the movie "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island."
Given the prescience and speculative power of his imagination regarding science and technology, it's safe to assume 19th-century author Jules Verne would enjoy watching 3-D movies. Alas, Verne would likely be disappointed by "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" (Warner Bros.).

Although shot and projected in 3-D (and also available on Imax screens), this sequel to 2008's "Journey to the Center of the Earth" can be described as both leaden and insubstantial. Implausible without being fantastical, it labors to evoke awe or wonderment.

In its defense, the movie does transmit a positive view of humankind's quest for scientific knowledge and instinct for adventure. And it's mostly a wholesome affair, though marred on that score by a somewhat casual attitude toward youthful sexuality (typified by overly sensual shots of a young adult female character) as well as by a few potty jokes.

The sense of mystery the filmmakers attempt to extract from their literary source material is diluted by a strained premise and especially lame expository dialogue. This would be less of an impediment if the movie offered superior visual thrills, yet the technical credits are merely serviceable.

When 17-year-old Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) receives a distress signal he believes was sent from an uncharted island, his new stepfather, Hank (Dwayne Johnson), helps him decode it using Verne's book "The Mysterious Island," Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" and Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels."

Supposedly, all three authors had the same land mass in mind when fashioning their stories. Sean also believes this isle is where his missing grandfather, Alexander (Michael Caine), can be found.

Hoping to improve his relationship with his hostile stepson, a skeptical Hank offers to help Sean locate the place. They travel to Palau in the South Pacific and — after surviving a maelstrom in a rickety helicopter flown by tour guide Gabato (Luis Guzman) — arrive on the island with Gabato's daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) in tow.

There they encounter strange natural phenomena such as a gold-spewing volcano and giant bumblebees, along with other surprises. Unfortunately, the island is rapidly sinking back into the sea and the quintet (Alexander is indeed in residence) must race to escape using the submarine Nautilus, which Verne wrote about in "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea."

Serendipitous fantasy, whether on the page or the screen, requires a certain amount of plausibility and coherence to capture the imagination. An excess of pseudo-scientific jargon and unfunny banter undercuts the appeal of "Journey 2."

Rather than develop substantive themes or get entertainingly lost in the action, director Brad Peyton, working from a script by cousins Brian and Mark Gunn, focuses on tension between Hank and Alexander. Guzman's infantilized character is also overused as comic relief.

A four-minute cartoon starring Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd precedes the movie; it's replete with the kind of gun-related violence familiar to anyone who grew up watching Looney Toons animation.

On the whole, potential moviegoers would be better advised to stay home and read the above-cited classics.

The film contains some teen sensuality, several moderately scary sequences, a few uses of suggestive language and occasional toilet humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John P. McCarthy is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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