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More Jules Verne In Reality, New Line Going Forward With Journey 3

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Audiences want the fantastical scenarios in the novels of Jules Verne to be real. That’s the story told by the Journey franchise’s box office receipts, anyway. In 2008, the Brendan Fraiser-Josh Hutcherson family adventure film inspired by Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth earned $242 million internationally. The second installment – Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, which opened February 10 – is expected to pass the $275 million mark this week. Despite the fact that Journey 2 has gotten middling reviews at best (garnering a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes), the film’s earnings have convinced New Line to go ahead with a third installment in the series.

The creative team responsible for the film currently in theaters will be returning for Journey 3 – Brad Peyton will again direct, with Brian and Mark Gunn once again penning the script – but there’s no word on which actors and characters will return. Peyton is excited for the new project, citing his own love and knowledge of Verne’s mythologies. As you might expect for an announcement of this kind, Peyton claims Journey 3 will be bigger and better than any Journey movie before it:

Mysterious Island was one of eight or nine really seminal works. I know we’ve just scratched the surface of what we can do. … It’s just going to be a bigger experience, and we’re going to grow the mythology. Journey 2 was about rebooting a franchise; now it’s about making the seminal work in the franchise.”

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Movie Review – Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Is Another Big, Unfunny Kids Movie

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Journey 2 could have become part of a weird little adventure genre of movies like National Treasure and The Librarian, instead it squanders its premise and never rises above being just another big, unfunny 3D children’s film.

At its outset though, I found myself completely on-board with premise of the film: Sean (Josh Hutcherson) and his grandfather (Michael Caine) are Vernians – explorers and scholars who believe that the stories of Jules Verne are based in reality. No one has heard from the grandfather for a couple of years, until Sean intercepts a coded message (morse code via character names from Jules Vern tales) from his grandfather saying that he has found Verne’s Mysterious Island (which turns out to also be the same island Johnathan Swift and Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about in Gulliver’s Travels and Treasure Island). Sean intensely dislikes his stepfather Hank (Dwayne Johnson), but the ex-Naval officer helps him crack the code and find the island. Their expedition there draws in a helicopter tour operator (Luis Guzman) and his daughter (Vanessa Hudgens), all of whom end up stranded on the Mysterious Island with Sean’s grandfather. Also, Atlantis comes into the picture at one point (Atlantis is always awesome).

It’s ridiculous (and completely ignores the fact that Swift was writing social satire), but Journey 2: The Mysterious Island could have made for a fun family adventure if it weren’t for the terrible writing and character development. Guzman plays a man embarrassingly overdrawn and his relationship with his daughter is as unforgivably trite as it is cliched. Sean spends far too much of the film whining about how Hank treats him like a child and there’s no reason for Hudgens’ reasonably responsible young woman to fall for him. Sean and his grandfather (whom Caine plays as delightfully manic but also as an extreme asshole) also spend too much of the film making fun of Hank’s intelligence, despite the fact that Hank is an award-winning Naval codebreaker who’s almost singularly responsible for Sean finding the place. Johnson tries really hard to be the solid stepfather figure of the story and might have been able to pull it off under better direction and with a stronger script.