Reviews

Journey to the Center of the Earth

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Perhaps someday, movies made in digital 3-D will be so commonplace that we’ll see relationship dramas, workplace comedies and psychological thrillers in three dimensions, but at this point the technology is so new that all it’s really useful for is showing off. Luckily Journey to the Center of the Earth director Eric Brevig has a background in special effects and experience working on 3-D movies/theme-park attractions Captain EO and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, so his feature debut finds him perfectly at home with the showy aspect of 3-D cinema.

The Details

Journey to the Center of the Earth
**1/2
Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem
Directed by Eric Brevig
Rated PG
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Journey to the Center of the Earth
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That’s a good thing, because Journey doesn’t have much else going for it. Sort of extrapolated from the classic Jules Verne novel, the film posits that Verne was actually documenting real science in his 19th-century tale, and a secret society of “Vernians” have been working to find their way to the hidden world beneath the Earth. One of those people happens to be the missing brother of geology professor Trevor Anderson (Fraser), and on the 10th anniversary of his disappearance, Trevor heads to the same Icelandic mountain depicted in Verne’s novel to see if he can discover just what happened to his brother.

What happened, of course, was that Trevor’s brother journeyed to the center of the Earth, and that’s exactly what Trevor, along with his nephew Sean (Hutcherson) and fetching Icelandic mountain guide Hannah (Briem), ends up inadvertently doing, finding all sorts of Vernian menaces there once he arrives. Trevor, Sean and Hannah encounter plenty of mild, PG-rated danger in sequences that well replicate the aesthetic of Brevig’s theme-park work and take as much advantage of the 3-D technology as possible. There are some pretty impressive sequences, including one with nasty sea monsters, along with plenty of stop-and-admire-the-special-effects moments and no fewer than three instances of 3-D spittle.

The story is slight and predictable, the character development pretty much nonexistent, and though the effects are generally solid, without 3-D the movie would be pointless. Fraser proves again, after the Mummy movies (a third is coming next month), that he makes for a tolerable poor man’s Indiana Jones, but his acting still has only two dimensions. If you don’t have the chance to see the movie in all three, it’s definitely not worth bothering.

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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