Journey to the Center of the Earth

Rated 3.0

An alleged scientist (Brendan Fraser, now entirely too comfortable in his low-rent Indiana Jones mode), with his nephew (Josh Hutcherson) in tow, follows his missing adventurer brother’s trail to Iceland, where he encounters a fetching mountain guide (Anita Briem) and wants to get inside her world navel. The wonder of Jules Verne’s 19th-century classic tale, if not of the James Mason-Arlene Dahl movie version from 1959, remains relatively intact in visual-effects supervisor-cum-director Eric Brevig’s feature debut. This diverting Journey has the jewel-filled caves, the magma lakes and the obligatory hungry Tyrannosaurus. Its script, by Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin and Michael Weiss, keeps things simple, all right; let’s just say it’s a good thing the images are three-dimensional, because the characters certainly aren’t. But give props for the self-conscious product-placement plug of Verne’s novel; it’s not every dumb 3-D summer-blockbuster adventure that takes the time and trouble to encourage its young audience to read a book.