JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
General Release 2008
93 minutes approx
Directed by -
Written by -
Michael Weiss, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH is a 3D movie filmed in the new 'Real D' system and is playing in its 3D format at 'selected cinemas', which for most of us outside of the cities means a round trip of fifty miles or more, so this is a review of the film shown flat in the manner that it is available to most of the audience. As a result you won't find any analysis of how good the new 3D system is.
Brendan Fraser plays Trevor, a man trying desperately to continue the work of his brother into a discredited branch of geology and vulcanology. Shortly after his nephew comes to stay prior to emigrating to Canada, he discovers that the volcanic indicators around the world are exactly the same as at the time that his brother disappeared in Iceland. The pair, therefore, go immediately to Iceland where they learn that the brother was a Vernian, a person who believed that the stories of Jules Verne were not science fiction, but science fact. Hiring the daughter of another of these Vernians as their guide, they ascend the mountain and inadvertently find themselves trapped in a tunnel that starts to lead them in a downwards direction.
3D is a movie technology that has never really caught on, but refuses to die. The main reason is that it is used as a gimmick, the directors of the films forever throwing things directly at the audience. The best 3D movie we ever saw was IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, which (apart from the opening crash and one shot of the creature appearing) took the format for granted and just got on with creating an atmospheric locale and telling an effective story. JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH is firmly in the former camp, though it does less of the obvious tricks as the film progresses. Nevertheless, we get spat it, rulers pointed at us, dinosaurs dribbling on us etc. It's an annoying distraction from the job of the story telling, but then the story could use a little distraction.
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH is not a story, it is a series of event strung together to advertise the new 3D system and the inevitable video game and theme park ride that will follow. You can almost see the game scenes being planned as the film unspools (run away from dinosaur, beat up carnivorous plants, play baseball with flying piranhas etc) and they're all scenes stolen from Steven Spielberg films. There's the mine car chase from INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, the dinosaur chase from JURASSIC PARK, the jumping from stone to stone from INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE and more. They don't add up to anything though, just things that the characters have to pass through on their way to getting out from underground. None of the characters goes on an emotional journey, remaining as determinedly shallow at the end as they were at the beginning. They neither develop nor deepen.
Brendan Fraser can do this sort of thing without really trying, as he proves here. He has proven himself a better actor than this in GODS AND MONSTERS and is clearly doing this for the rent. Neither Anita Briem nor Josh Hutcherson make any impact with their roles.
It is possible that younger audiences might find the incident and special effects enough to enjoy, but if you have to see JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH then do the extra miles to seek out the cinema that is showing it in 3D because that's really what the film is for and what it has going for it.Top
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