Journey 2: The Mysterious
Island (2012/New Line/Warner Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray 2D and
DVD)/The Jungle Bunch – The Movie
(2012/Universal DVD)/Mutant Girls Squad
(2010/Well Go USA
Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Secret World Of
Arrietty (2010/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD)
B- Picture: B- & C+/C+/C+/B &
C+ Sound: B & C+/C+/B- & C+/B
& C+ Extras: D/C+/C-/C+ Films: D/C+/C-/B-
set of titles aimed at children and families arrived, plus one that is meant as
a dark send-up of such material and how such a spoof resonates when the
“authentic” product does not work.
Franchises are part of the problem, with even the biggest companies so
mindlessly trying to squeeze a few more pennies out of something that they’ll remake
or sequelize anything.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
(2012) is a bizarre, desperate and highly unnecessary sequel of sorts (so
unnecessary, it is not even directly related to its predecessor) with Brendan
Frazier being succeeded as the male lead by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson whose
performance is more like “talk at slightly loudly” than anything anyone would
define as actual acting. Needless to say
he has a family and they land up on an adventure that is more pointless than
the Frazier version as this starts badly and just gets worse and worse and
worse. Even Michael Caine and Luis
Guzman can’t save this one, so you know it’s bad when they get wasted.
leaves the 3D and visual effects, which are as phony and generic as the last
film, which was a last minute 3D conversion.
This has nothing to do with any Jules Verne novel and even showing any
of his books does not help. Save the
money and star power of Guzman and Caine, this is just an overblown TV movie
and an illiterate quasi-adaptation at that.
Were they trying to make this Spy
Kids? If so, they captured its worst
parts. Vanessa Hudgens, Josh Hutcherson
and Kristin Davis also star.
include UltraViolet copy, lame Deleted Scenes, unfunny Gag Reel and an
interactive map of the so-called island.
For more on other versions of the same material, try these links:
original hit film
involving an island, but more child friendly and smarter by default, The Jungle Bunch – The Movie (2012) is
a straight-to-video release trying to capitalize on the Madagascar CG feature
film franchise and though not able to compete with the budgets of those
releases, is amusing enough that I could see younger children enjoying this
John Lithgow is one of the voices here, so that helps. The disc also has 26 shorts as extras, which
makes this more than just a basic DVD release.
The zoo animals in this one are visited by penguins looking for
something called “The Great Tiger Warrior”
and mayhem ensues. It could have been
funnier or wittier, but overall, all the content in total is at least quality
entertainment and that seems even increasingly rare in the children’s field. Parents can feel safe about getting this one.
of such fantasy fare inform darker spoofs and works thereof and in Japan, thanks
to Anime, Manga and similar pop art, you get works like Mutant Girls Squad (2010) now in an unrated edition from Well Go
USA. Three young ladies (say teens)
suddenly find themselves possessing powers and distorted body parts and though
this has the visuals and some of the language of the other titles on this list,
it is violent, gross and has a sense of humor about it that is in part linked
to the idea that a safe child’s world has a darker underside. Ironically, some of the phoniness of Journey 2 actually confirms this, but
this work is also a throwback to the landmark Japanese TV classic Ultraman and the brilliant feature film
spoof of that show and the entire giant monsters cycle: Super Inframan (both reviewed elsewhere on this site), both of
which a make better viewing than this or Journey
problem with this spoof, besides having three directors, is that it is so one
note, the visual effects are awful and event he violence seems confused. Action and violence are so repetitious that
even the staging keeps looking the same over and over to the point that all
involved seem slap happy, drunk or too self-amused to make whatever they are
trying to do work. Very lame, only
diehard fans of Japanese pop culture should even think hard before they bother.
include a spin-off short, Interviews, Making
Of piece, trailers and footage from the Opening Day of its release.
leaves us saving the best for last with Hiromasa Yonebayshi’s The Secret World Of Arrietty (2010) from
Studio Ghibli and the latest of many titles released by Disney in their
distribution deal. The title character
is a young lady only a few niches tall living in the world of humans like us
and with her also small parents. One
day, a young boy spots her and eventually discovers her and her world, but
there are dangers to all of them in being discovered and he has his own
dysfunctional family to contend with.
result is simply a good version of the old fantasy standby of “what if very
tiny people existed” which happens either naturally as in this case or if
someone starts shrinking or someone else starts shrinking people. It is smart, charming, well done and decent
throughout. I was intrigued when I heard
right wing types call it left wing “pro nature” propaganda (some people need to
get a life) and I just don’t see that here unless appreciating our natural
world is an issue, so only a sick mind could dislike that. However, this is smarter than that and also
proof that hand-drawn animation is alive and well.
include English voice lead Bridgit Mendler’s “Summertime” Music Video and a making of it in both format versions
of the film included here, while the Blu-ray adds Original Japanese Trailers
& TV spots, Original Japanese Storyboards and Cécile Corbel’s Music Video
for “Arrietty’s Song”.
X 1, 1080p full HD MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition
image on Journey 2 is a mixed bag,
no better than the phony 3D on the older Brendan Frazier version and no better
than the Blu-ray 2D edition. This has a
phony look all around, studio-bound and not very exciting visually. Whether this was a last minutes conversion
does not matter, because the money just makes it look phony throughout instead
of good, there are many soft shots with motion blur and we can also blame the
poor CG effects throughout as well and the anamorphically enhanced DVD is
softer still. Weak all around.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Jungle
is somewhat soft throughout, but is fine for a low budget CG presentation on
DVD. It actually can compete with the
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Mutant Blu-ray
which is a poor, sloppy HD shoot and you can see more flaws than on its
anamorphically enhanced DVD version which is softer, but hides some of the
other flaws. Color is problematic on
both as well and the visual effects make the situation worse.
1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Arrietty Blu-ray is easily the visual champ among the releases here
with a solid picture that is rarely soft, has consistent color, few flaws and
is very pleasant viewing throughout. The
anamorphically enhanced DVD cannot compete and is much softer in comparison
than expected, but the Blu-ray is the way to watch this anyhow and those who
have Blu-ray players will not be disappointed.
Blu-rays have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes and the best are Journey 2 and Arrietty, as the former eventually gets loud and has surrounds kick
in its supposed action scenes and the latter is quieter, but very well
recorded. That leaves Mutant with a problematic soundfield
and even some recording flaws, but also some good surround moments. All three also happen to have DVD versions
and they all feature lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes that are no match for their
DTS-MA counterparts, though it is a narrower gap in the case of Mutant.
Though limited, the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the Jungle DVD is on par with the other
three DVDs, good, but not great.
- Nicholas Sheffo