Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)

The first of Hollywood’s six 3D blockbusters, Journey To The Center Of The Earth is directed by special effects master and several time Oscar nominee Eric Brevig who has worked on films like Twister, Pearl Harbor and Hook. The Jules Verne 19th century novel is a natural pick for a 3D movie with characters venturing to a strange land beneath the surface and encountering wild creatures and strange vegetation.

The second remake, Journey to the Center of the Earth simplifies the Jules Verne novel and writer Michael Weiss and Michael D. Weiss moves the story forward fast. The journeyers are still the trio (the 1959 Pat Boone/James Mason version expanded it to a British group) made up of an American professor, Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser), his young nephew, Sean (Josh Hutcherson) and an Icelandic guide, Hannah (Anita Briem).

Director Brevig knows how to use his special effects. He had the audience (me included and I am usually quite sedate) jumping out of their seats a few times. Using cheesy plays like creatures’ feelers, spitting and fly bugs protruding out of the screen, action packed sequences and distance filming, Journey to the Center of the Earth is a joy to watch with its 3D utilized efficiently. No doubt the movie contains a clichéd, heard before plot concerning a reputation tarnished professor who has to prove himself and a ridiculous romance (Briem is in real life 12 years younger than Fraser), but the film is still clean matinee styled fun. But the audience has to watch it online and pay attention closely to dispel some belief. Temperatures beneath reach over the hundreds but the actors do not sweat.

The story is a bit dated but with the special effects, but with a modern feel. To his credit, Brevig shoots all the beneath the earth sequences in a pale colored format close to black and white to give it a period look. He also moves the film past all the scientific technicalities without giving the audience time to evaluate the truth of any theories put forth – like the reversal of the compass magnet once beneath the earth.

For a script with cheesy dialogue, Fraser holds well and is believable as both a bumbling professor and an unlikely uncle. In the book and 1959 adaptation, the nephew was a grown man. The move to have a much younger aged nephew works better and also allows the film to cater more towards the family.

Journey To The Center Of The Earth is a good movie to watch for free – old fashioned matinee type with big heroes, wild sets, menacing monsters and wild adventure. And it still surprises and entertains with its 3D effects.