Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Journey 2 Isn't Quite Worth the Trip

Plus, Safe House and The Vow play things too safe.

by | February 10, 2012 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a jungle quest (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Josh Hutcherson), rogue CIA agents (Safe House, starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds), an odd boy-meets-girl story (The Vow, starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum), and nascent Jedi in 3D (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, starring Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson). What do the critics have to say?

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island promises a family friendly adventure in eye-popping 3D; unfortunately, the critics say the film’s goofy charm and solid special effects are undermined by its middling script. A sequel to 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Mysterious Island finds Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) in the midst of a fantastic quest: upon receiving a cryptic message from an uncharted island, he joins forces with his stepfather Hank (Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson) to search for treasure and rescue the island’s sole occupant. The pundits say Journey 2 is pleasantly acted and inventively picturesque, but it’s short on excitement and good dialogue. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down co-star Luis Guzman’s best-reviewed movies.)

Safe House

An unoriginal action movie isn’t inherently a bad action movie, though critics say Safe House has enough kinetic thrills to make them wish its plot were a little fresher. Denzel Washington stars as Tobin Frost, a rogue former CIA agent who is being held in a South African safe house. But when mercenaries attack, Frost and rookie agent Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) go on the run to find out who ordered the hit. The pundits say Safe House is action-packed and briskly paced, but it’s also pretty predictable and short on suspense. (Check out our list of the best and worst movie CIA agents.)

The Vow

What if the love of your life forgot who you were? It’s a premise ripe with dramatic possibilities, but critics say The Vow too often sticks to its boy-meets-girl (again) formula at the expense of strong performances from its appealing leads. Based upon true events, The Vow is the story of Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum), a young couple whose relationship is tested when Paige suffers from severe memory loss after a devastating auto accident. Can she learn to love her husband all over again? The pundits say The Vow is sincere and often moving, but it avoids most messy real-life complications in favor of melodrama.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (in 3D)

When Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released in 1999, there was a disturbance in the Force: critics and audiences were divided over whether it was a bold new chapter in the Star Wars saga or a legacy-tarnishing travesty. The debate is sure to continue with the rerelease of The Phantom Menace in 3D, in which we meet young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in the days before their paths diverge. The pundits were dazzled by the movie’s visuals but felt the heart and substance of the originals was missing; still, now’s your chance to see Episode I with fresh eyes and make up your own mind.

Also opening this week in limited release:

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