Sunday, 13 July 2008

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Director: Eric Brevig
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson & Anita Briem

An enjoyable action/adventure film suitable for all ages enhanced on the big screen by the use of 3D which is utilized to deliver effective thrills.

There is something about seeing a film in 3D that brings out the child in any audience. It is the feeling of experiencing something new on the big screen, of films reaching out to touch you, the audience. As such, Journey to the Center of the Earth is very enjoyable and is, perhaps, more enjoyable that is should be. There is nothing groundbreaking in the film’s plot, or dialogue, or acting, or even CGI, but Journey to the Center of the Earth is the first live action film to be released in full 3D (previous films, like Beowulf, being all CGI affairs). The filmmakers and actors know that this film is intended as a fun romp with a 3D gimmick and they play to this fact with relish.

The story revolves around a scientist, Trevor (Fraser) and his nephew Sean (Hutcherson) finding evidence that a volcanic event that occurred 10 years previously that lead to the disappearance of Trevor’s brother, and Sean’s father, Max. Heading off to Iceland to investigate and bringing along reluctant guide Hannah (Briem), the trio find themselves discovering that the world described in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, is real. Their adventure then leads them to encounter many wonders such as flying fish, carnivorous plants, dinosaurs and more. It isn’t hard to predict whether our trio will get through safely or not, or when a creature appears on screen that it’ll will come flying out towards the audience through the use of 3D, but somehow that does not distract from the enjoyment of it all and some scenes are plenty entertaining (a mine-cart ride like that of an Indiana Jones film) even without the 3D enhancements.

The performances, while nothing spectacular, are nevertheless enjoyable and charming. Brendan Fraser brings an infectious feeling of warmth and excitement to his role as a scientist that always believed that such wonders could exist and is excited at the prospect of experiencing them outside of a lab. Hutcherson has a fairly standard character arc of sullen teen that discovers his own inner strength and to find himself opening up to care about those around him after years of feeling abandoned by the loss of his father and Anita Briem is mostly believable as a guide who seems exceptionally capable of handling almost any situation.

As mentioned, the plot is enjoyable if fairly predictable in places but it manages to still provide several compelling character developments especially upon a discovery that is made halfway into the film that has strong, personal consequences for Trevor and Sean that proves that the film is capable of surprising you beyond its use of 3D.

Overall this is highly watch able. See it on the big screen if you are able to so that you can benefit from the 3D experience. Even if you don’t, there is still much to be liked and it’ll be great for the younger audiences either way.

Rating: 4/5 if seen in 3D, 3/5 if seen otherwise.