Journey 2 The Mysterious Island Cast
: Josh Hutcherson, Dwayne Johnson, Kristin Davis, Luis Guzman, Michael Caine, Vanessa Hudgens Director
: Brad Peyton Genre
: Action, Adventure, FamilyRated
: Family Adventure. In this follow-up to the 2008 worldwide hit "Journey to the Center of the Earth", the new 3D family adventure "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" begins when 17-year-old Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson, reprising his role from the first film) receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island where no island should exist. It's a place of strange life forms, mountains of gold, deadly volcanoes, and more than one astonishing secret. Unable to stop him from going, Sean's new stepfather, Hank (Dwayne Johnson), joins the quest. Together with a helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman) and his beautiful, strong-willed daughter (Vanessa Hudgens), they set out to find the island, rescue its lone inhabitant and escape before seismic shockwaves force the island under the sea and bury its treasures forever. Release Date
: January 19th, 2012Website
About the Production "To get to the island we have to fly into the eye of the hurricane." - Sean Anderson
With director Brad Peyton at the helm, "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" takes moviegoers on a fun and fantastic new adventure to parts unknown, a place so remote it has lain hidden for centuries ? and, when found, is almost impossible to escape.
A fan of the first film, "Journey to the Center of the Earth," which introduced intrepid young explorer Sean Anderson to audiences worldwide, Brad Peyton says, "I wanted to embrace Sean Anderson's story and advance it, with amazing new landscapes and a fresh set of challenges that will take him further than he's ever been because he's not a kid anymore. He's seventeen now and ready to blaze his own trail in the world. This is his chance to prove he's not just along for the ride he's an explorer in his own right."
"The first movie engaged peoples' imaginations and showed us a kid who had a lot of potential but still had a lot to learn," says Dwayne Johnson, who comes aboard in the debut role of Sean Anderson's stepfather, Hank, and also serves as a co-producer on the film. "The second journey takes us to another exciting place, full of possibilities, and shows audiences who this young man has become."
Brad Peyton, who recently exposed the secret world of backyard espionage in "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," is no stranger to combining action and comedy with a sweep of scale and a dash of the unexpected. Upon seeing the script for "Journey 2," he says, "I never imagined doing it small. Right away, I knew it had to involve land, sea and air, with creatures, caves, storms, underwater battles and aerial chases, and all of it set against the most incredible, breathtaking terrain. That meant utilizing the latest and best technology, to deliver something special in the 3D realm that 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' helped to establish."
In 2008 that film broke ground as the first narrative feature to employ the Fusion System, a sophisticated digital 3D camera rig developed by James Cameron and cinematographer Vince Pace, and subsequently used on "Avatar." Not surprisingly, the "Journey 2" filmmakers returned to the James Cameron Pace Group for state-of-the-art strategies and equipment to capture the depth and scope Brad Peyton wanted to achieve in a range of realworld environments.
Dedicated to a full location shoot from the start, the director states, "I felt the actors should have dirt under their feet. I wanted a real jungle, not a green-screen jungle. As the setting for so many spectacular images, it needed that literal grounding."
Producer Tripp Vinson, who re-teams with "Journey to the Center of the Earth" Beau Flynn and Charlotte Huggins, says, "The action is highly intense but family-friendly and I believe the credit goes to Brad Peyton for being able to walk that line. He had a very clear point of view on many of these sequences from our first meetings, and a strong vision for how to design and execute them, and he really delivered. He builds up the tension of a scene, then a release, and then twists the action in a way that creates even more tension. I think one of the best things about his direction is his ability to create and sustain that pump of adrenalin."
At the same time, the filmmakers knew that what made the original story so memorable was more than the daredevil exploits of their central characters. It was their sense of connection to one another that mattered-the bonds that were formed or reinforced in the face of danger and situations that revealed what they were truly made of.
Says producer Beau Flynn, "I believe audiences responded to these kinds of themes in the first film and we were committed to making them integral to this one, too. There are a number of ideas that we touch upon throughout the action, such as coming to appreciate people for who they are rather than what your first impression might have been, and opening your heart to possibilities. And, from the perspective of a sixteen- or seventeen-year old, maybe understanding a little where your parents are coming from, and vice versa."
The filmmakers also liked the fact that the characters thrown into this tropical paradise-turned-deathtrap must use their wits as well as their reflexes to survive, especially when they discover that plant and animal life there grows by its own rules.
It's the Island Rule, in fact, also known as Foster's Rule. Producer Charlotte Huggins explains, "It's a genuine biogeographic theory, that, over the course of evolution in an isolated environment, large things can become small and small things become large. So a herd of elephants there might look and act exactly like elephants except that they're miniatures, while butterflies could look and act exactly as butterflies would, except that they're enormous."
The downside of such visual wonders would be great carnivorous birds and lizards, some the length of a football field, who see the explorers as their next meal. Michael Caine, starring as Anderson patriarch Alexander, who made wanderlust the family business and is the catalyst for this latest excursion, acknowledges, "This is no children's fairy tale. It's very fast, and the kids are going to have to be smart to keep up."
Or, they could be avid readers. The events that unfold on screen are based partly on the writings of visionary 19th-century author Jules Verne, whose novels The Mysterious Island and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea flavor the storyline and inspire the action throughout-along with some fortuitous cross-references in the form of Robert Louis Stevenson's Robinson Crusoe and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Unlike most films based on books, "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" actively references its source material, which becomes part of the story. Richard Outten, who shares story credit with screenwriters Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn, recounts, "The idea began, for me, as a tribute to my grandfather and some of my favorite childhood books. I imagined that rumors of the same strange and fantastical island inspired three authors to independently write their classics a theory proven by a lifelong adventurer and his grandson."
After mining clues from Verne and his literary compatriots to pinpoint the island's uncharted coordinates, Sean Anderson then turns to Verne time and again, while on the run, to navigate its topography and evade its greatest perils. "Rather than fight their way out of a situation, they have to rely on their ingenuity and ability to figure things out. There are no 'bad guys' to overcome here, just time and the obstacles that stand between them and their way home," explains Brian Gunn.
Adds Mark Gunn, "Verne envisioned submarines and space travel long before those things existed. He was a fiction writer who based his ideas on science, but it was science ahead of its time, and that's what people find so intriguing about his work."
The film honors that realistic grounding, whether in the evolutionary anomalies that populate the island or the restless tectonic plates poised to engulf it. "Verne believed the fantastic could be grown from the world we live in, the world beneath our feet, which can be more vast and rich than we imagine, and we took the same approach," says Brad Peyton. "The more surreal the environment you create, the more the rules of the real world have to be defined and respected. The challenge being: how do we present ordinary things in a way that's drastically different from how we normally perceive them, making the familiar suddenly bizarre and unpredictable? This isn't some far-out fantasyland amazing things exist on the island but they're recognisable things with wildly altered proportions.
"I can't claim every bit of science in the movie is accurate," he adds. "But we were careful that it all began with some basis in reality. After that? we just went for it." "The safest way to get to the other side is by walking along the shoreline.
The fastest way is by going straight through the heart of the island. But let me warn you:
this island is full of dark jungles and terrifying creatures " - Alexander
"I think we have no choice. The quickest way."
When the story opens, young Sean Anderson is definitely not where he wants to be. It's been years since his father's death, and his mother, Liz, played by Kristin Davis, has recently married Hank and relocated the family to suburban Ohio. With no friends around, and a stepfather with whom he's convinced he has nothing in common, Sean spends many solitary hours poring over his maps and Jules Verne novels and dreaming about undiscovered corners of the world that await him.
"He feels trapped," says Josh Hutcherson, who returns to a role that has matured in sync with his own life in the four years since "Journey to the Center of the Earth" first screened. "He's ready to move on to bigger things, and he's filled with curiosity about the world, which I completely understand. I think a lot of people do, even if they're not necessarily interested in discovering lost islands. There's just a driving need to be out there on your own, figuring things out and finding your own way."
More specifically, Josh Hutcherson emphasises, "Sean doesn't want any part of his stepdad. He thinks the guy has nothing to offer he's unhip, uncool and has no imagination."
Dwayne Johnson plays Hank, a Navy vet who runs his own construction company and is accustomed to tackling things head-on and fixing problems. But can't quite figure out a way to fix this one. "Like a lot of teenagers-and I was no exception-Sean thinks he has all the answers," Dwayne Johnson says. "He's experienced a lot of abandonment between the loss of his father and his grandfather's travels, so he is naturally wary when this new father figure comes into his life. Hank and Sean are at odds from the beginning, as one wants to connect and the other wants to distance himself."
Dwayne Johnson continues, "Family is one of the most important thing to Hank, and his intention throughout the story is to make his family whole again."
"Dwayne Johnson brings so much to every role," notes Brad Peyton. "With his million dollar fists and billion dollar smile, he could carry a movie just on his action chops alone but he also has impeccable comic timing and he's endlessly charismatic. I wanted everything-the whole Dwayne Johnson experience-for this movie, and he brought it all. He even sings?who knew? And plays the ukulele."
But as noble as Hank's intentions are, Sean feels he's to blame for everything wrong with his life right now. More importantly, he's sure to be the immovable object standing between Sean and the exploration the young man considers his birthright.
That assumption will be tested sooner than Sean thinks when he receives a strange radio call one night. It's an encrypted S.O.S. that he suspects may be from his grandfather, Alexander, who hasn't been heard from since he set out to prove that the Mysterious Island in Verne's novel was fact and not fiction.
Its first four words are electrifying. The Island Is Real.
"Alexander is Sean's idol. He's pretty much always done whatever he wanted, and he's always off on some crazy expedition," says Josh Hutcherson. "If Alexander is in trouble, Sean will do anything to reach him."
Likewise, Hank will do anything to reach Sean, even if it means accompanying him to the South Sea on what he believes can only be a wild goose chase, feigning interest in the unlikely yarn about an island that history forgot, just to keep an eye on him. But days later, after a harrowing crash-landing in the most unbelievable place he's ever seen, no one is more surprised than Hank. In fact, he's almost speechless?except for a few choice words he levels at the instigator of all this trouble: the one-and-only Alexander Anderson, Sean's oftabsent paternal grandfather and the family's first bona fide Vernian.
Sean, on the other hand, couldn't be more thrilled and vindicated. But his euphoria at finding his grandfather is short-lived when he learns that getting off the island will be much harder than falling onto it, and that they have very little time in which to accomplish it. The ground beneath them is sinking. Fast. The entire land mass will be underwater in days, if not hours, and their slim chance of survival is entirely in their own hands. "When they realise they have to work together as a unit to save themselves, that's when their individual strengths come to the fore in unexpected ways," says Brad Peyton.
As Dwayne Johnson laughs, "Impending death is a great motivation for teamwork." While this crisis unites them in a single goal, it underscores the fact that their individual reasons for being there are widely different. "But it's the developing relationship between Sean and Hank that anchors everything else and serves as our way into the story," cites Brad Peyton, who opted for a light touch in showing how these two ultimately find their way toward an understanding.
"Sometimes in the development of a script there's the temptation to oversell the character beats and arcs," Vinson offers. "But in the hands of talented actors like Dwayne Johnson and Josh Hutcherson you can allow those revelations to emerge through their performances."
Likewise, the immediately antagonistic meeting between Sean's stepfather and grandfather evolves as the two alpha males constantly take each other's measure, with Dwayne Johnson and Michael Caine clearly enjoying shooting barbs at one another. "Right away there's a solid wall of confrontation, which always makes things interesting," Dwayne Johnson remarks. "I love tension on screen, especially when it's layered with humor."
"Their charged banter drives that relationship, and it's great fun to watch," says Beau Flynn. "Hank will present an idea, and Alexander will present another, and it's an ongoing competition for who has the better plan, with Alex dismissing Hank as all brawn and no brains."
At the same time, Johnson counters, "Alexander seems appealing because he doesn't follow the rules and is always taking off to exotic locations. Hank understands that, but thinks that kind of behavior makes Alexander a man who has never been there for his family."
Michael Caine likewise pegs his character as "a mad sort of explorer. He goes to all sorts of places, the stranger the better, and finding the elusive Mysterious Island is the crowning achievement of his career. The trouble is, by electing to share the secret with his grandson, he's put the young man, and everyone with him, into a very perilous situation."
Even so, having courted danger his entire life-reveled in it, really-Alexander views their predicament as just another hurdle to overcome. "He doesn't shy away from anything," says Charlotte Huggins. "He's loving every step of this journey and Michael Caine absolutely brings that joy to the performance. When he put on the costume, he had a big smile on his face and said, 'I look like Indiana Jones' grandfather."
A proud grandfather himself, the Oscar®-winning actor initially told the filmmakers he wanted his grandchildren to be able to brag about him riding a giant bumblebee, saying, "I don't make many family films, but I have three grandchildren now and I don't want them to wait 18 years to see me in a movie. Also, the script was intelligent and entertaining, and I've never done a 3D film so I'm keeping up with the times."
But these three generations of fiercely independent men aren't left to work out their differences alone. Joining them, and representing an entirely different kind of family dynamic are Gabato and Kailani, played by Luis Guzman and Vanessa Hudgens, a father/daughter helicopter team who flew Sean and Hank to the island from nearby Palau, New Guinea, in a blinding hurricane that has destroyed the copter and left them all stranded together.
At first glance, Gabato's motive for accepting the job that may cost them their lives, is money. It's his motive for everything. When other seasoned guides refused the request to venture into the infamous "ships graveyard" in search of an unseen, fabled scrap of land, even at a premium fee, the gregarious pilot with the dilapidated whirlybird gladly seizeed the opportunity-to the obvious disapproval of his more sensible daughter.
"Gabato is a happy-go-lucky guy, flying tourists around paradise, living the dream," says Luis Guzman, who had a lot of fun with the role and contributed some memorable ad-libs that delighted his fellow cast and the crew. "He's also a hustler. There's not much he would turn down if the price was right."
"Luis Guzman was the ace up my sleeve when it came to the comedy," says Brad Peyton, who proclaims the veteran character actor "a world-class scene-stealer," adding, "He plays everything real and his Gabato is oblivious. Most of the time he doesn't realise he's in danger, he thinks he's on some outlandish vacation. Everything knocks him out, every new vista enthralls him."
But Gabato is really just a doting father, striving to give Kailani, the light of his life, what she wants most: the means to go to college. Kailani, in turn, loves him dearly and appreciates his efforts but doesn't actually expect their marginal enterprise to bring in the funds to finance that dream. Truth is, Dad isn't much of a businessman, and Gabato's Luxury Tours would likely not survive without her help. "Gabato is the heart of the operation but Kailani is the brains," Brad Peyton concedes.
Watching them interact is both touching and funny. "Vanessa Hudgens flawlessly plays straight man to his craziness," says Charlotte Huggins. "She never reacts to him, which is exactly what you would expect from someone who has lived her whole life with a man like this. She's beyond reacting. He says something outrageous and then moves on to the next thought, and so does she. They were perfectly in tune."
"Kailani is tough because she has to be," says Vanessa Hudgens. "She looks after her father. She's also very outspoken, and, from the start, the one thing she's been most outspoken about is how this job was a bad idea."
And, mere minutes into their charter flight, it appears that she was right. Not only did the helicopter accident destroy the group's only means of transportation, it also seems to have destroyed any chance the instantly-smitten Sean hoped he had to catch Kailani's eye. Instead, he catches only the Polynesian beauty's ire as she vows to hold him personally responsible for this and all other calamities that lay ahead.
"Sean is a dreamer and Kailani is far more practical. He wants her to get into the spirit of this great quest but she's just focused on the risks," Josh Hutcherson explains.
Having sized up the American teen before he stepped foot in the copter, Kailani is convinced he as wouldn't have the slightest idea what her life is like and what her problems are. But as events unfold, she begins to wonder if she might have been mistaken, especially as they quite literally can't avoid falling into each other's arms with each surprise the island tosses up. "Embracing this experience and everything it offers means she'll have to open her heart and Kailani has always been ruled by her head," says Vanessa Hudgens. "But she gets pulled into this incredible world and ends up finding more than she expected."
As the five of them forge a path toward their unlikely but only possible salvation, Sean's mother Liz, far from the fray, is left wondering what's happening to the two men she loves most in the world. Well aware of her former father-in-law's excesses and eccentricities, she feels Alexander is unreliable and a poor role model, if not altogether loopy. But she can't deny Sean's affection for him, nor can she deny that, despite her reservations, the fearless teen seems destined to follow in his father's and grandfather's footsteps.
Kristin Davis observes, "Obviously, Sean would prefer to pursue his own ambition. He'd prefer to be out looking for his grandfather. There are a lot of things he'd rather be doing with his life instead of being stuck in the suburbs so he's not thrilled with his mom's choices at the moment. She's remarried, she's in love, and she just wants them to be a family because Hank's a great guy? Sean just doesn't know it yet."
Much like Hank, Liz is hoping this trip might initiate that small miracle. But she couldn't imagine the half of it. "So let me get this straight? the only way to avoid drowning is to go hunting for some hundred-year-old submarine?" - Kailani
"Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" was filmed on location in Oahu, Hawaii, in Fall 2010. The island provided a range of terrain, from sandy shoreline and mist-draped valleys to caves and volcanic mountains. Sites included Waimea Valley, Heeia Kea, China Walls, and Kualoa Ranch, which has served numerous film and television productions, as well as Halona Beach Cove, popularly known as Eternity Beach because it's the spot made famous by Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in "From Here to Eternity."
Though born in San Francisco, local hero Dwayne Johnson says, "I did a good part of my growing up in Hawaii, about an hour from where we were shooting, and it was wonderful to be back. In those days, when I was about 13 or 14, I loved watching movies and I had big dreams. So to come back to Hawaii and shoot a great adventure was really a blessing."
The filmmakers also used studio facilities in North Carolina to complete certain scenes, starting with the helicopter crash. Its aftermath was filmed on Eternity Beach but its spin through the storm that sends it plummeting to earth was shot on a soundstage, involving what special effects supervisor Peter Chesney calls "a kind of tinker-toy assembly, built around a high-strength steel truss with an aluminum extension."
Chesney was able to apply 6,000 pounds of pressure on any corner of the rig at the push of a button by creating a high-vibration device he dubbed an airbag, modified from truck suspensions and attached to high-speed accumulators, or valves, that could dump large volumes of compressed air on cue from electrical input signals. In this way, he could simulate a Category 5 hurricane battering and ultimately ripping the copter apart. "It kind of resembles NASA's infamous 'vomit comet,' where they're creating zero gravity, but we'd stop it at mid-roll and run it back in the other direction," he says proudly of the contraption's final effect on screen.
"I thought they were kidding when they called it 'the rotisserie,'" jokes Vanessa Hudgens. But that was just the beginning. Another of the film's showpiece stunts was an aerial skirmish in which the five adventurers, mounted on giant bees, are chased by even larger birds intent on devouring them. The birds, which Sean breathlessly identifies as White-throated Needletails before they swoop down on him, were specifically selected because Needletails are fast fliers and do, in fact, feed on bees. Setting the scale, Brad Peyton suggests, "Think of the bees as helicopters and the birds as bombers."
"We were careful to be sure the velocity and physics felt right," he continues. "I wanted these mounts to have weight, so that when audiences see the actors pulling hard to the left or right, or leaning into a turn, they're really doing it." To accomplish this, the director turned again to Chesney, who crafted a series of mounts called Bee Bucks, which they could realistically manipulate. Resembling oil drums, each was calibrated and counter-balanced to each actor's weight. The Bucks were then attached to beams that functioned like teeter boards, with additional counterweights, and the entire assembly was mounted on a triangular base over air bearings with variable-controlled pressure so that it floated like a puck on an airhockey table.
Visual effects supervisor Boyd Shermis later replaced the oil drums with CG bumble bees and added background footage his team caught on site by traveling through and above the valley's treetops in helicopters using condensed stereo cameras to tap the speed, movement and excitement of flight. He then filmed the Buck Rig and its riders from all angles and combined all of this digitally with the action so the actors could see and interact with each other quickly throughout the chase.
From there, some of the action moved underwater for an encounter with an oversized predatory electric eel, for which Dwayne Johnson and Josh Hutcherson added Scuba diving certification to their resumes. Originally, the filmmakers planned to use the tank at the EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington but, as the scene developed conceptually and grew in scope, they had to build one themselves: 80 feet in diameter and 20 feet deep, to hold 750,000 gallons.
Into the drink went the actors and a portion of a submerged submarine set called the antechamber, but, Boyd Shermis reveals, "everything else in that sequence is computer-generated: the particulate in the water, the light refractions, the sea life, corals, bubbles, and silt. Underwater environments are one of the most complicated to create in the computer, very time-consuming, with hundreds of layers."
Back above sea level, Alexander's tree-house, purportedly fashioned by hand from shipwreck salvage and lit by jars of fireflies, was also constructed on stage. But a large portion of the extensive Atlantis set was created on location in Hawaii. Production designer Bill Boes explains, "We wanted to convey it in a grandiose scale, some of which was done with matte paintings and visual effects, but we also built a huge set in the Kualoa Valley. Because the island constantly sinks and rises on a cycle of 140 years, we incorporated shells and coral and signs of prehistoric aquatic life into the architecture."
Another of the island's wonders is a volcano that spews molten gold, as well as gold ash that rains down upon the group as they race to make their escape. Achieving that ethereal effect proved especially challenging. To avoid polluting their pristine environment, the crew could not use the standard tools of the trade, either mica or Mylar flakes. They needed an organic, harmless alternative. After much consideration, it was decided the simplest solution was best, and they opted for real gold leaf, at 1.2 millionths of an inch thick and pure enough to be edible.
Elsewhere, the group encounters a far less desirable surprise: a field of oddly symmetrical boulders that are in fact mammoth lizard eggs, which they don't realise until they are halfway across-each person poised precariously on a thin shell as the brood's mother advances on them. The nearly 60 eggs came in two sizes: big and bigger. Sculpted, then mass-molded as hollow fiberglass halves, welded together and painted, the approximately 200- to 300-pound creations that measured between 7 to 10 feet in circumference were then trucked into position and battened down.
"Whenever there was something messy, Gabato got the worst of it," Luis Guzman quips, "He was the one who fell into the egg goo he got the bird poop he got buried in the sand. I think Dwayne Johnston and the filmmakers just got together and said, 'Let's get Luis.'"
"It was a physically demanding shoot," Josh Hutcherson concedes. "Even in scenes that weren't stunt-oriented, just climbing or walking over tree roots you could easily fall flat on your face? which I did, many times. As much as the movie is going to feel like a roller coaster ride for audiences, it was like that a lot for us during filming, too."
That's a sentiment Brad Peyton appreciates, as his aim was to create an immersive experience in every sense of the word, with engaging action and characters and gorgeous locales. To help get his cast into the proper frame of mind, he even played for them the film's soaring main theme by composer Andrew Lockington, which he commissioned well ahead of production, partly for that purpose. Lockington won a 2008 BMI Award for his score on "Journey to the Center of the Earth."
And, as with the original, opting to shoot in 3D played a significant part. Says Vinson, "With a big action movie like this it behooves you to design those sequences to make maximum use of the technology, and Brad Peyton made some very smart choices.
If you look at the bee chase sequence, or the lizard sequence, or the battle with the electric eel, these are massive and crafted to be shown off in 3D. But he also used it in ways that aren't typically considered 3D showcase moments."
Charlotte Huggins, whose filmmaking experiences includes 20 years of working with 3D acknowledges, "Everyone loves that edge-of-the-cliff shot where it looks like you're going to fall, and 'Journey 2' has plenty of that. But Brad raised the stakes by also coming up with ways to create volume and depth not only in lavish wide shots but in close-ups, so you get a sense of the actor's presence in a way that's very real and personal, and I believe that's what will set this film apart. Ultimately, audiences don't care about the technology. They just want to feel it."
One of the things filmmakers hope that moviegoers will feel as they watch "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" is the sense of wonder that Jules Verne imbued into his adventures. "As a kid, growing up, those books were summer reading," Beau Flynn recalls. "It's the kind of story that would make your imagination run wild. To be making a movie now, based on a Jules Verne book, and to possibly be introducing young people to him and his ideas for the first time, is fantastically rewarding."
"This is everything I wanted to see on screen when I was a kid, and something I think is cool enough for families to enjoy together," Brad Peyton concludes. "It's a lot of action and laughs, weird creatures, and some touching moments that I hope will resonate with both kids and adults."