Director: Eric Brevig
Notable Cast: Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem
Every last aspect in Journey to the Center of the Earth (in 3D!) caters to the gratuitous nature of the entire production. Of course, when the film’s goal is to celebrate the relative novelty of a 3D experience that is not a bad thing. Oddly, the wanton nature of the movie is emphasized by some fairly basic tricks of the adventure genre. After all, we are dealing with a family film here.
Call it color by numbers or perhaps shrewd marketing, but either way the film feels fun without ever once feeling fresh. Everything is done in such a mechanical way that it almost feels as though the filmmakers were going through a checklist as they went along. How Journey to the Center of the Earth (in 3D!) is always obvious and never boring is a testament to Brendan Fraser’s surprising bankability. But again his presence is nothing extraordinary, merely a means to an end.
The same can be said for the familiar plot which is, to put it mildly, rudimentary. Yet one has to marvel at the staying power of Jules Verne’s work since it still offers plenty of excitement over 100 years later. Talk about being ahead of the times. It is because the story is so basic the tale could translate to the screen for years to come, with a few tweaks here and there. The professor is now a scientist (Fraser), his nephew is a cocky technophile (Josh Hutcherson), and the hired gun is now sexy eye-candy (Anita Briem), but they still make the trip to the Earth’s core and discover a fantastical world within our world.
A world so amazing that two dimensions were not enough! Marvel as glowing birds dance over the explorers’ heads! Gasp with startled laughter when the crew uses pre-historic fish for batting practice! Scream in terror as a dinosaur nips at the professor’s heels! It is all completely serviceable 3D fodder. And really, if you want to make a 3D movie there is no better way to attract audiences than making the rest of the film feel familiar. In case it is not obvious, that third dimension is the selling point.
A good thing too since the cast never once looks like they have strayed too far away from a green screen. Journey to the Center of the Earth (in 3D!) doesn’t exactly kick down the doors of the viewer’s imagination but its simplistic approach allows the audience to share the experience with each other. Though there is supposedly a whole world down there, it is barely explored, and the viewer is given little time to picture what could be off camera, and cultivate his or her unique vision, as the characters are constantly falling off of things or fleeing from CG beasties.
That is just a fancy way to say there is no time to ruminate on the non-existent plot. But why waste time letting that get you down? Everything there is to see is right there in front of you (literally!). The movie has enough fun to fill three dimensions even if everything else about it could fit into one.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):