Director Brad Peyton and writers Brian and Mark Gunn have appropriated "The Mysterious Island" – Jules Verne's sequel to "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" – for a contemporary sequel to the 2008 film version of Verne's utterly unrelated "Journey to the Center of the Earth."
Josh Hutcherson, who played surly 13-year-old Sean in the first film, is the only returnee, this time as a surly 17-year-old Sean. Brendan Fraser, as his uncle, is more or less replaced by Dwayne Johnson, as his new stepdad.
Interpreting a coded radio message and hints gleaned from Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Jonathan Swift, Sean and Stepdad head off for an uncharted island to rescue Grandpa (the always welcome Michael Caine). Along for the ride are Luis Guzmán for comic relief and Vanessa Hudgens for teen romantic interest.
Against backgrounds that invoke "Avatar," they fight giant lizards and fly on giant bees, while searching for Captain Nemo's ship. Everything is juvenile (deliberately) and predictable (undeliberately). For all the special effects – like its predecessor, this is in 3-D – the film coasts on Johnson being charming and Caine being Caine. Grade: C (Rated PG for some adventure action and brief, mild language.)