Nothing is very mysterious about Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. A moderately zany sequel to 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, this voyage was, like the first one, shot in stuff-flying-at-you 3-D and, also like its predecessor, stars Josh Hutcherson as Sean Anderson, a teenage adventurer steeped in the fantastical literature of Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Jonathan Swift. Last time, Sean and company journeyed, well, to the center of the earth. This time, guess where they go?
There’s a lot riding on Hutcherson’s upcoming performance as Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games. Fortunately, the weight is off his slim acting chops here, thanks to the lovely muscles and likability of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Sean’s stepfather, Hank, who has a fine time teaching the kid how to pop his pecs to wow the ladies. (Vanessa Hudgens plays Sean’s cute love interest, with Luis Guzmán as her excitable papa. Brendan Fraser, who played Sean’s uncle last time around, has not returned.) And matching Johnson charm for charm, Michael “The Iron Man” Caine appears to enjoy himself playing Sean’s eccentric explorer grandpa Alexander. He takes pleasure in needling Hank and in riding a giant bee like a bronco.
The movie flies by pleasantly, and is then instantly forgettable. Perhaps Jules Verne can explain the science of that. What may remain in memory a bit longer is the accompanying Looney Tunes short Daffy’s Rhapsody, about the existential relationship between the wily waterfowl Daffy Duck and the hapless hunter Elmer Fudd. It features the voice of the late maestro Mel Blanc, taken from a Daffy song recorded in the 1950s. The cartoon is in 3-D, which to this purist is vewwy, vewwy wrong — unless the animators meant Elmer to look more like Dick Cheney than like the Fudd we know. B