Hm. Check the thermostats in hell, I feel a bit of frost coming on. The guy who rages every week in Boiling Point and who gleefully tallies up body and boobie counts in The Coroner’s Report enjoyed Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D. Think about that for a second. No, not because its secretly rated-R or we get a look at something naughty. Simply because it was fun. Legitimately fun. Of course the 3D plays a huge role in that, but one should expect it to when the film proudly proclaims that in it’s title.
Journey follows the adventures of a geological scientist (specializing in volcanology) who goes in search of his missing brother and, along with his nephew and hot Icelandic guide, stumbles to the Center of Earth where adventure and danger all exist in three dimensions. The story is plausible enough for what you’re signing up for. I think this is one of those movies where if you go in knowing that it’s a semi-goofy partly cheesy 3D family film you’ll let yourself go and have fun.
Early in the year I joked to a friend that, with both Journey and the new Mummy installment this would be “The Summer of Fraser.” I’m now poised to start eating a little crow on that one after enjoying this film so much. Fraser plays Trevor Anderson, the lead man in investigating the disappearance of his brother 10 years ago and strange volcanic activity. His nephew is played by the always enjoyable Josh Hutcherson, who in another of my lesser advertised opinions, is a fine young actor. Joining them on the trek is relative newcomer Anita Briem, who looks amazing and fit in tights. The acting across the board is good – the only really cheesetastic parts are in the trailer, everything else is a good bit better.
The plot is actually a bit more thought out than I expected – though I’ll readily admit to having low expectations. It revolves around the idea of Vernians – people who believe Jules Vern was more of a documentary writer than a fiction writer. With the discovery of notes in a copy of Jules Vern’s book, the theory becomes more and more plausible right up until the crew are dropped into the center of, well, the Earth. A land that time forgot, complete with giant killer fish, monstrous sea creatures, playful birds, man-eating plants, and of course, a dinosaur.
The real star of the film is, of course, the Real 3D which is amazing. I didn’t have the perfect seat, but the image was still crisp and clear and just jumping off the screen. The film plays with 3D like a toy rather than a serious tool, but the fun pays off. We get plenty of things jumping at the screen, a few of which even made my hardened ass jump a bit in my seat. The kids in the theater were screaming their approval. One joke has Fraser spitting on the camera while brushing his teeth and it’s one of my favorite parts of the flick. I also had a lot of fun during the sea crossage, where giant fish with voracious appetites and large teeth jump at our heroes, and at the screen. Salvation comes from an unlikely and awe-inspiringly cool source.
All in all this is a great summer family flick. The teen audience and solo-adults might want to pass (though you’ll have fun, I promise), anyone with a group of kids should pop into theaters to catch this on a hot (or rainy) summer day. The 3D alone makes the journey worth it, and the film itself is better than the trailers let on. I’m glad I was able to be in attendance here and enjoyed it far more than I’ve admitted to my friends. So if you’ve got some free time and want to have a fun, 3D experience, there isn’t anything wrong with Journeying to the Center of Earth.
The Upside: The 3D is marvelous and fun.
The Downside: There is a bit of cheese scattered through this enjoyable romp.
On the Side: This is the first live action film completely filmed in and for 3D. Here’s hoping to a lot more in the future!