I’ve written before on this blog that I’m a big fan of the cinema.
I regularly ditch work for an afternoon to sneak off to see a movie, and I love going to the cinema on my own, especially on a quiet afternoon, when you might get a whole screen to yourself. Thanks to the frankly brilliant Odeon loyalty card, I usually have enough points to take Flea to the cinema a couple of times a month, and she’s now a cinema fan in her own right.
The result is that I’ve seen more kids’ movies than you can shake a stick at. And oh my goodness, some of the rubbish that is seen as deserving of a nationwide theatrical release!
Honestly, this isn’t me being snooty. I get that there will be films that I don’t enjoy but which are perfectly pitched for a young audience. Let’s face it, there has to be some kind of explanation for the fact that there are TWO sequels to Alvin and the Chipmunks. And some kids films are genuinely brilliant – I think Hugo is one of the finest movies of 2011, full stop.
But there is a whole raft of children’s films entirely lacking in charm, humour or even a basic narrative structure. There are cheap, churned out animations – Gnomeo and Juliet, Mars Needs Moms. Then the live-action “star” vehicles – Mr Poppers’ Penguins, The Smurfs. And the endless sequels without purpose – Spy Kids 4, anyone?
Sometimes the nicest thing I can say about a film is that I had a lovely snooze. In fact, when I saw the trailer of Cars 2 on TV recently, bits of it were completely new to me, despite the fact we’d seen it at the cinema twice.
So, my hopes were not sky high this weekend when we were given free tickets to go and see The Journey 2: Mysterious Island. It’s billed as an adventure story, and stars Vanessa “I was in High School Musical” Hudgens, and Dwayne “You might remember me from The Tooth Fairy” Johnson. There’s some teenage boy in it, but he’s new to me.
But actually – it’s really not bad.
The story is based around the mysterious island written about by Jules Verne, and includes some nice references to classic adventure stories and legends. It’s a bit like a cross between Jurassic Park, Zathura and Percy Jackson.
In this film, a teenage boy goes in search of a mysterious island to find his long-lost grandfather, taking along his stepfather for the ride. Along the way he meets a beautiful teenage girl wearing a t-shirt that appears to be two sizes too small (I knew I’d become officially middle-aged when I started to notice such things). The girl initially isn’t interested in the boy at all, and is quite interestingly independent and sparky, but eventually she comes to her senses. Obviously.
Anyway, there are giant monsters, insects, caves, underwater rescues, submarines, helicopters and volcanoes – and in 3D there are some nice jump scares that got Flea bouncing in her seat. There’s the odd bit of questionable green-screen CGI but overall the effects are well done, and the story is exciting enough to keep little ones entertained. At six, I’d say Flea is about the right age for this film.
I think Journey 2 is a great option for half-term if you want a step up from the usual animated children’s fare – and one of the very few films where I’d say it’s maybe even worth forking out for a 3D ticket. Recommended. But Vanessa, poppet? You might want to get a new t-shirt that actually fits for the next movie.
Disclosure: We were given vouchers by Warner Bros to attend the film, and buy popcorn. Opinions are my own.