JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 3-D
Warner Bros/New Line Cinema/Walden Media
Directed by Eric Brevig
Executive Producer: Brendan Fraser
Produced by Beau Flynn, Cary Granat and Charlotte Huggins
Screenplay by Michael Weiss, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin
Based on the novel “A Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” by Jules Verne
If you’re a fan of the classic 1864 Jules Verne science fiction novel: “A Journey ToThe Centre of The Earth” as I am then you’re probably familiar with some, most or all of the previous versions of the tale. There have been at least two made for TV miniseries, an animated television series that aired from 1967 to 1969, and a 1959 theatrical version starring James Mason, Pat Boone and Arlene Dahl that is probably the version that everybody has either seen or heard of. There was even a concept album by Rick Wakefield that was pretty big back in the 70’s. Well, at least it was with me. I was pretty heavy into Rick Wakefield as well as Emerson, Lake & Palmer back then. It’s best if you don’t ask why. Now we’ve got a 3-D version to go along with them and I’m happy to say that it was far from being as crappy as I feared it would be.
My dislike of the 3-D format? Well, mainly because of the fact that I wear glasses it’s a pain in the ass to have to wear 3-D glasses over my own. Especially those really lousy cardboard 3-D glasses. If you’re a fellow eyeglass wearer you know what I mean. But thankfully that part has been upgraded as well as the 3-D process. The 3-D glasses given to you to watch the film are actually pretty sturdy and made to fit over prescription glasses. Both my wife and I were able to wear them quite comfortably. And also, I prefer for the action to stay on the screen where it belongs and not jumping into my face, thank you very much. Despite all this I had a lot of fun watching JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 3-D. I even liked it when the flying piranha fish leaped out of the screen and seemingly into my lap.
Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) is a tectonic research scientist whose funding has been pulled thanks to the backdoor politics of a rival (Seth Meyers). In a couple of days he’s going to be out of job and this really isn’t a good time for his nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) to come visiting. But visit Sean does, bringing with him the usual teenage angst and attitude. Sean also has a box of his dad Max’s stuff which he gives to Trevor. Included in the box is a dog-eared copy of Jules Verne’s “A Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” which was the favorite book of the Anderson brothers. Max in particular believed in the book so much that he went missing years ago trying to prove that a way to the center of the earth did in fact exist. Trevor becomes intrigued by notes written in his brother’s handwriting all throughout the book and by deciphering the notes thinks that he can find Max. Taking Sean with him to Iceland they engage the services of local guide Hannah (Anita Briem) whose father was a colleague of Max’s as well as being a Vernian, one who believes that the works of Jules Verne are fact and not fiction. The intrepid trio hikes up the side of a mountain to find one of Max’s tectonic sensors and thereby stumble onto the path that leads them into the world at the earth’s center.
It’s a pretty wild path that includes a five minute free fall, an out-of-control mine car ride and an underground river. And once Trevor, Sean and Hannah reach the center of the earth they’re still not safe as there’s prehistoric creatures such as a hungry T-Rex, carnivorous plants and flying piranha fish to deal with. But there are also marvels such as luminescent hummingbirds, magnetic rocks that float in mid-air and an entire ocean.
If you’ve seen the ads and trailers then you’ve probably guessed that this isn’t a movie you’re going to expecting the acting to blow you out of your seat. And it doesn’t. The main selling point of this movie and the main reason to go see it is because of the digital 3-D effects which are amazingly good. There are a lot of theaters that are showing this in the standard format but do yourself a favor and try to see this in 3-D if you can. You’ve got your standard 3-D gags such as Brendan Fraser spitting out water that appears to gush right in your face and a bit with a yoyo that stops just short of hitting you in the nose. But there’s also a chilling scene involving those flying piranha fish that is the movie’s scariest moment. I myself was impressed with the floating rocks which looked eerie and surrealistic and there’s a beautiful scene with dandelion seeds that actually appear to fill the theatre as they’re softly blown into the air. It’s a wonderful effect that had the audience I saw it with oohing and ahhing.
Brendan Fraser looks as if he’s having a ball in this movie. By now the man has acted in front of a green screen so much that he does it as easily and as naturally as you or I get out of bed in the morning. But he sells the reality of the situation and he has a good rapport with his co-stars. Anita Briem’s Hannah is wonderfully capable as the tough mountain guide and there’s a nice running gag as she keeps count of how many times she saves Trevor’s life. Josh Hutcherson’s Sean starts out as your stereotypical teenager with a pointless mad-on at the world but once he gets caught up in the adventure he realizes how cool his uncle is and learns a few truths about his dad as well.
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 3-D is a movie that most definitely made for family viewing so if you’re looking for a lot of gore and violence you’re not going to find it here. It’s a nice throwback to classic adventure films that is designed to do nothing more than give you 92 minutes of entertainment and it does it quite well. What with all the blockbuster superhero movies hitting the theaters this summer, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 3-D probably isn’t on your list of movies you wanted to see. But if you’ve got a young nephew (or niece) you need to spend some time with, this is a good way to do it. Enjoy.