'Journey 2: The Mysterious Island' helps Dwayne ‘The Rock' Johnson make triumphant return to Hawaii
BY GENE TRIPLETT
HONOLULU — Glancing out the hotel window at the lush green sprawl of golf course lined with palm and banyan trees and all manner of exotic flowering plant life ending at the white
sands of Waikiki Beach and the sparkling blue Pacific beyond, it’s hard to imagine anyone finding hardship and trouble in this paradise.
But that’s what Dwayne Johnson managed when he was a student at Honolulu’s William McKinley High School.
“I wanted to go back to my roots,” the former WWE champion-turned-film-actor told a room full of reporters during a recent press day at the Kahala Hotel to promote the release of “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.”
“It was important to me,” said Johnson, a bit of his elaborate Polynesian tattoo showing beneath the short sleeve of the form-fitting black T-shirt that covered his heroic muscles like a second skin.
“I did a lot of my growing up here in Hawaii,” he said. “It always represented struggle. It was here in Hawaii I had the notion in my head, ‘Well, I can change my life with my hands.’ Meaning maybe I could build my body and I could become someone and change my family’s situation. So it was all driven based off that.
“And it all started in the McKinley weight room. It all started when I was 14 years old as a freshman. I started playing football. I was getting in trouble all the time. I was doing a lot of things that I shouldn’t have been doing. I still had coaches who believed in my potential, but it all started in that weight room.”
Facing the past
So, one of the first things Johnson did when he returned to Hawaii to promote “Journey 2” — much of which was filmed on location here — was revisit his old school.
“And I went back unannounced,” he said. “The principal knew. We went in, and the beauty of that weight room is, it’s still a mess, it’s still dirty, it’s still rusted out. There’s still electrical tape holding together a lot of the equipment. Nothing has changed in years. And that’s the beauty of it, because it’s never been about boosters and donating a lot of money, donating this beautiful space. It’s about kids getting after it, getting better in that dirty place. Big chicken skin moment.”
The surprised students he spoke to were no doubt impressed with this hometown-boy-made-good, as he’s now one of the biggest box office draws in the world with gross film revenues in excess of $2.1 billion, and yet another potential blockbuster opening in theaters Friday.
“I enjoy making a movie that the entire family can go see,” Johnson said of “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.”
“In this case it’s a big adventure, an epic adventure. My first 3-D movie. Written and directed for 3-D, written and made for 3-D, not converted. There’s a lot of reasons to go back into this space. When you do a family movie right, there’s a character on the screen that every member of the family can relate to. That’s a cool and special thing. I like that.”
“Journey 2” is the second installment in a Jules Verne-inspired franchise that began with 2008′s “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” Josh Hutcherson returns as intrepid teenage explorer Sean Anderson, and Johnson makes his first appearance in the series as Sean’s new stepfather, Hank.
The running plot of the series thus far has had Sean setting out on dangerous quests to prove Verne’s 19th-century novels were more fact than fiction. This time the story begins when Sean receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island where no island should exist.
Message Sent Successfully
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