July 13, 2008

Movie Review: Journey to the Center of the Earth - 3D

Back in 1959 Pat Boone starred in a big screen adaptation of the classic Jules Verne novel. Now, nearly 50-years later we have traded in Pat Boone for Brendan Fraser, and dropped the adaptation in favor of inspiration. On top of that, they have dropped the idea of high action and adventure in favor of a gimmicked flick that cashes in on the renewed interest in 3D film processing. The end result is a film that is fun, but in an amusement park ride kind of way. So far as the use of the 3D processing goes (using the RealD process), it looked pretty good, but I cannot say that it made it a better "film." In any case, this is well worth taking a peek at on the big screen if you are looking for safe, family oriented fun. If there is a child 10-years or under in the equation, they will love this journey.

I must admit, the trailer did not grab me. Aside from the "We're still falling!" line, I was left completely nonplussed, although the idea of seeing it in 3D was an intriguing idea. To this point I had only seen a couple of 3D films and they were of the animated variety (Beowulf and The Nightmare Before Christmas) and only one was made with the process in mind. So, I decided that if I was going to see it, I was going to see it in 3D, besides, the scenes seemed to be geared so much towards the gimmick that watching it projected flat just strikes me as pointless.

The story is a simple one, Trevor (Brendan Fraser) is a professor teaching small college classes while continuing the work of his missing brother, who disappeared ten years earlier. To help jumpstart the story, Trevor is scheduled to spend some time with his nephew, Sean (Josh Hutcherson) a visit that coincides with a new discovery regarding his brother's research. This sends the uncle/nephew team to Iceland, where they are joined by Hannah (Anita Briem), who lives near the caves where Trevor's brother disappeared.

Soon enough, the trio find themselves trapped behind tons of rock and forced to go deep into a cave, which leads to a fall deep into the Earth's crust (the "We're still falling!" scene, which, I must say, was done better in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey) where their journey resumes. Now, if I were to continue recounting the story, there would be no reason to go see the film, right?

If and when you see this version of Journey to the Center of the Earth, the best advice I can give is to not over think it. This is not a deep film, there are no messages to dig up, no character development, nothing. All there is is the roller coaster ride that takes us deep into the Earth and eventually back out. There is no sense of any real danger. At no point did I think that these characters were in any genuine peril, it did not help that they never seem scared, they pretty much take it in stride.

When it comes right down to it, this is the sort of movie that youngsters will love and everyone else will forget in a rather short period of time. I am already beginning to forget the details myself, that does not make it bad in and of itself, but it certainly doesn't help. However you want to look at it, it is fun, just insubstantial.

Bottomline. As a showcase for RealD, this movie works well. As a movie, this leaves something to be desired. I cannot completely dismiss it, as it does have its charms and it moves at a brisk pace that doesn't give you time to be bored. My recommendation would be to go see it in 3D or not at all.

Mildly Recommended.


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