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Movie Review: Journey To The Center Of The Earth (2008)

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Journey To The Center Of The Earth (it’s an American title, even my spellchecker is trying to stop it) is a 2008 film starring Brendan Fraser (star of The Mummy, a similarly inaccurate series of films), Josh Hutcherson from the Cirque Du Freak adaptation, and Anita Briem, an Icelandic woman who occasionally (and somewhat inexplicably) shows mild traces of a British accent as an Icelandic mountain guide.

It’s an adaptation of one of Jules Verne’s books (name’s in the title, first published 1864), which is drawn upon several times in the film as inspiration. Rather confusingly, it can be considered a sequel to the 19th century novel, while following the actual sequence of events pretty closely (just like Highlander 3).

The film depends on the famous Hollow Earth theory being true. Indeed, the film even acknowledges this should be impossible, and those who take the writings of a dead sci-fi author seriously are justifiably called crazy – until they’re proven to be right, of course. Like most of Fraser’s work, it requires heavy suspension of disbelief, but the original story required that as well and it’s a good read — give it a go sometime.

In keeping with the overall theme of subterranean impossibilities, there are some logical impossibilities about the plant life and stuff that evolved in the tunnels and so on, such as the carnivorous plants and the freaking big dinosaur being there! Aside from that, there’s a sequence in which Brendan Fraser punches one of the aforementioned carnivorous plants in the face. I’m sorry, but you cannot look bad-ass if you punch a plant in its face, no matter how big it is (and the plant was unnecessarily big, by the way – no fly or insect that we see in the film is that big, so no need for the plant to be either).

This film is one of those ‘gimmicky’ 3D films, which becomes very obvious on occasion. Nevertheless, when it wasn’t giving me a headache, making me see double or making the picture a weird kind of grey, the 3D worked well (I caught my reflexes trying to make me catch stuff that was coming out of the screen) and mostly didn’t feel too intrusive. There were a couple of instances where I groaned due to the gimmick being applied (such as in the introduction to the film when Fraser ends up spitting milk into your face IN GLORIOUS 3-D!) but I get that with most 3-D films; it is done to demonstrate the technology, after all.

If you are the armchair adventurer type (I know I am — that is the type of person that Verne’s novels appeal to) and willing to suspend your disbelief, then you will most likely enjoy this film. However, to fully enjoy and appreciate the experience, then I recommend shelling out for the version of the film that has both the 2D and 3D versions on it, that way you can get the best of both worlds. (I personally recommend the 2-D version as the superior one.)

There is a sequel being planned, Journey To The Center Of The Earth 2 (The Quickening); no word yet on whether it’s being made IN GLORIOUS 3-D! It appears to only star Fraser and Hutcherson at the moment and it follows their journey to a mysterious island thought to have inspired three classics. I, for one, wouldn’t mind tagging along on another adventure with these two, particularly after the ‘dibs’ exchange between a 13-year-old boy and a 30-something man. It’s nice to know the bro code works across that age gap.

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