See this movie in 3-D.
That’s how I have to start off this review. I’ll come back to this later but keep that in mind in case you usually glance at the first sentence of reviews before you leave. See it in 3-D if it is at all possible.
Journey to the Center of the Earth stars Brendan Fraser (Where has he been?), Josh Hutcherson, and Anita Briem and truly is one special film. The movie starts off with Trevor (Fraser) dreaming about his brother Max who we later find out went missing on a trip to some Volcano doing research. He even has an entire college dedicated to his research, and Trevor teaches there, unfortunately he doesn’t teach too many. Soon he is told that his lab is going to be shut down because no one believed in his brother’s work and that it’s just a waste of time so he goes home defeated and begrudged. When he gets home he all of a sudden realizes that his nephew (Max’s son) is coming over for a week and he hasn’t prepared at all. In fact he forgot entirely. Max brings with him a box of his dad’s old stuff and in there Trevor finds the book Journey to the Center of the Earth. When he examines the book he notices that his brother had taken notes in there and he’s enticed by them. He’s even more excited though when he finds out that the notes seem to coincide with something that is happening in certain volcanic regions of the Earth now, so he decides that he has to investigate where his brother was last seen because that’s what he believes the book’s notes are saying. When he gets to Iceland (the location of the volcano) he meets up with a mountain guide whose father also took notes in a copy of Journey to the Center of the Earth and she tells him that it was some strange cult or psycho group, which Trevor refuses to believe. She agrees to take them up to the volcano as a guide and that’s when the movie really begins.
Now the movie was obviously made for kids as it seems to play like one giant roller coaster of effects after another. It starts off with a fast and dangerous cart ride then they’re being attacked by killer plants, and then they’re being chased by a T-rex, and then there are big floating rocks that seem to be taken out of a platform video game, and it never seems to stop these ridiculous effects until the very end, however surprisingly enough it works. The movie is actually quite a bit of a fun, and it’s one of those movies that kids will love for a long time after they see it. They probably won’t buy any action figures or merchandise from it but years down the road this is one of those movies that they’ll re watch and remember just how much they enjoyed watching it the first time, and then wondering what the hell was the matter with them. It’s a stupid movie but it’s entertaining and visually pleasing, especially in 3-D. This is easily the best 3-D movie ever made and it’s a shame that such a small amount of theaters were able to present it that way because that truly is the best experience for watching this movie.
The performances are nothing to brag about but they’re acceptable. Brendan Fraser seems to be playing a little more enthusiastic version of his Mummy character but he seems to be over shined by his two co stars Hutcherson and Briem. Hutcherson especially seems to do great in the cliché role of a modern teenager who really doesn’t care about anything at first until he starts learning more about his father and actually goes on this trip. Then again this could be because I’m comparing him to his previous roles in movies like RV which was just god awful. Briem also does a good job but seems a bit out of place as far as a love interest goes. Now obviously Sean (Hutcherson) is too young to get the girl in the movie even though he calls dibs on her, he is a teenage boy after all, but Brendan Fraser seems much too old. There’s a fifteen year age difference between them and it’s really just a personal thing but it bugged me while watching this film. Past that though the performances are definitely acceptable and won’t make you want to tear your eyes out like many recent family movies (college road trip) and the effects are good enough to keep you interested the whole way through. One scene in particular that I really liked was the funeral held at the center of the Earth. It was just done so seriously and beautiful that it really struck a different tone than the rest of the movie was offering. In that one scene Hutcherson and Fraser showed their best acting in the movie and I just like that the director took the death seriously and didn’t choose to give us some cop out cut scene where the death is hardly mentioned.
Overall Journey to the Center of the Earth is a kid’s film, but it’s one that has enough nice visuals (especially in 3-D) to keep the parents and teenagers entertained for the runtime. While it’s not anything groundbreaking as far as family films go Journey does it’s part as a movie and it knows it’s boundaries. It never tries to take itself too seriously for too long and while filled with a couple of laughable moments is acceptable as a well rounded family film for all ages. I give it 3/5 stars and recommend it to any of my friends who have kids… hopefully since I’m still in high school I won’t be giving out too many recommendations.