The center of the Earth is magical, even if the script leaves something to be desired
Journey to the Center of the Earth is quite obviously meant to be seen in 3-D, with birds and spit flying at the screen and a mine-shaft ride reminiscent of those at Disneyland (minus the moving seats). But, we like to kick it old school here in Chico, so 2-D it is.
Some have called the film a dumbed-down amusement-park ride, but I found it entertaining. The dumbed-down part probably stems from the fact that although lead character Trevor (Brendan Fraser) plays a geology professor who studies seismic activity, there’s very little actual science in the story.
The film instead takes Jules Verne’s book of the same name (which was the basis for the 1959 film) as fact rather than a work of fiction. A visit from his video-game generation nephew, Sean (Josh Hutcherson), finds Trevor looking through a box of his late brother’s belongings, including his favorite book—you guessed it—Journey to the Center of the Earth.
A few unexpected (but awfully coincidental) tectonic findings send Trevor and Sean to Iceland, where they meet up with cute mountain guide Hannah (Anita Briem) before embarking on the greatest adventure of all, through caves, deserts and mountain ranges, trying to escape from dinosaurs and killer fish.
The acting is decent, but the script is no masterpiece. There’s no adult humor disguised as harmless for the kiddies, no big lessons learned or even witty banter. But what the film lacks in script it makes up for in visual beauty. The T-rex, for example, is one of the most alive-looking dinosaurs I’ve ever seen in a film, and the magical world that makes up the center of the Earth sparkles (literally) with rich detail. (Surprise, surprise, coming from first-time director Eric Brevig, who up until know has earned his chops as a special-effects wizard.)
For a mindless escape into a fantasyland that will only steal 90 minutes from your busy life, Journey to the Center of the Earth is a worthy excursion—especially if you bring the kids.