Thomas Clarke’s review published on Letterboxd :
To make a sequel work, film companies have to do certain things that enable viewers to count them above the original. They generally have to be bigger, bolder and more entertaining than the previous installment and also have to add more to the formula that enabled the first to be what it is. Films that do not achieve on many of these elements are ones that critics and viewers account as a poor attempt to cash in on further ticket sales. Some sequels are un-needed, others are poorly developed and in rare occasions a stand out few better the originals and as such enable a franchise to be counted fully, adding to the other installments strengths. 'Journey 2: The Mysterious Island' is one such sequel. Achieving everything that the first film does, but adding more depth, excitement and larger set pieces eclipses the first movie and proves the need for the sequel to have been commissioned in the first place. These are rare in modern cinema, however, when they do come they are fresh and surprising for audiences.
Following on from the 2008 movie 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' 'Journey 2' is also loosely based on another Jules Verne novel; this time the 'Mysterious Island'. Incorporating other novels, such as 'Gulliver's Travels' 'Treasure Island' and '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' enables the plot of this film to be bolder than the original with more scope on what can be presented to the audience. As such it makes this film more enjoyable and entertaining throughout.
Set years after the first film, Sean Anderson is now a full fledged Verneon, looking into further adventures that can be discovered through the works of the author. With his granddad gone missing, and a coded message having been sent through to a local satellite building, the film begins with Sean fleeing from the break in of the building, being pursued by the police. Once caught, he is escorted home by his stepfather, Hank Parsons, a person that is made clear to be someone he does not get on with. In an attempt to bond with his stepson, Hank decodes the message and together they work out that the mysterious island is real and one that is shared between the three novels. Through tearing away the page from each of the novels and shining a light through, the co-ordinates for the island are revealed. To further increase the bonding between the two boys, Hank decides to agree with Sean's plea to visit the place.
Once the pair arrive at Palau, they board a helicopter run by father/daughter team consisting of Gabato and Kailani respectively. Together they head to the coordinates but when nearing the place, the helicopter is struck down by an extreme hurricane storm. Crash landing in the ocean, when the travellers awake they find themselves to have made the journey to its destination. On this island they find the lost grandfather and investigate all discoveries that can be made. When however, it becomes apparent that this island is in a cycle of getting overrun by water and sunk, the band of adventurers must vacate the place in a matter of days otherwise succ*mbing to being drowned with the island. The only way they can achieve this, is by finding a submerged vessel that is a featured in one of the other novels and leaving this place before it is too late. As narratives go, this film holds one that betters itself from the original, producing a story that is both easy to watch for children but entertaining enough for older audiences. It is a perfect balance made and the film is able to attract a more varied audience.
The use of 'Real D' 3D in this film, also allows this film to better itself from the original. No longer does the use of 3D in this film feel gimmicky and unlike many of the films that utilises 3D in the presentation, this film constantly feels rewarded by having it incorporated. With both Brendan Fraser and Anita Briem unable to star in this film due to scheduling conflicts, the casting directors needed to fill the void with worthy additions to the staple. They have achieved this by including Dwayne Johnson, Vanessa Hudgens and Michael Caine to the cast, although the chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Josh Hutcherson never materialises to the standards that were achieved during the first film. The supporting cast however, is much stronger within this film and therefore the film benefits greatly by bringing in other big name actors to fill the screen with their presence. Characters feel more three dimensional and as such the audience is more able to feel attachment to the plot, therefore causing more involvement on their part. The special effects within this film, although not perfect, are worthy of any movie in production these days. They are much better than the original film, and this showcases just how far effects have come in the last four years.
Overall this film adds much to the formula that made the first film successful, and is able to emulate that achievement within. With worthy additions to the cast and therefore a much stronger support for the main actors, this film is able to draw in more attention to the narrative than what the first film does. Some scenes may be too intense for young audiences, but those who do watch this film will find a great retelling of a classic novel in an imaginative manner that modern audiences can be shown. Although this film is seemed by many to be unambitious, some audiences will see that there is no real need. To emulate and further the first movie, ambition is not needed as it achieves what the first one does and adds more to the depth of characters and the storyline as a whole.