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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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Alphonsus Liguori: 
		<p>Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.</p>
		<p>In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.</p>
		<p>At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but he soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. </p>
		<p>He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. </p>
		<p>He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. </p>
		<p>His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. </p>
		<p>At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His <i>Glories of Mary</i> is one of the great works on that subject, and his book <i>Visits to the Blessed Sacrament</i> went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Ultimately there is no friend who can fully understand us, who can walk with us all the way. We must go forward and walk on our own in response to who we are and who we are called to be in God. —Thomas Merton

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