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  Publicity Stills of
"Journey to the center of the Earth"
(Courtesy from Warner Bros)

Genre: Adventure/Fantasy/Children
Director: Eric Brevig
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem
RunTime: 1 hr 32 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.journey3dmovie.com/

Opening Day: 7 August 2008


An exciting adventure based on the classic Jules Verne novel "Journey to the Center of the Earth," "Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D" stars Brendan Fraser ("Crash," "The Mummy") as a science professor whose untraditional hypotheses have made him the laughing stock of the academic community. But on an expedition in Iceland, he and his nephew stumble upon a major discovery that launches them on a thrilling journey deep beneath the Earth's surface, where they travel through never-before-seen worlds and encounter a variety of unusual creatures.

Movie Review:

Singapore will be well acquainted with Brendan Fraser as he lends his star power to two summer blockbusters being shown one week after another, first up with the continuation proper for the Mummy franchise (and you thought Dwayne Johnson would run away with this vehicle, but sorry, the real deal returns), and then there is this gimmick of a movie based on the Jules Verne's classic Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Unfortunately, local audiences will have to wait until later this year to catch this movie in its intended 3D glory, when Singapore hosts the first ever 3D Film & Entertainment Technology Festival (3DX). For the theatrical release, we have to make do with just, at best, a digital print. Do the thrills now evaporate with the lack of 3D? Not really, as they still hold up nicely in 2D. However you can't help but to sit through this nagging feeling that you're missing out on a lot that the film wished to allow an audience to experience.

If a movie is specifically made with 3D in mind, you can bet your last dollar that every action sequence out there, is designed to immerse and trick your visual sensory that you are indeed participating and caught up in the thick of things. Yes, a yo-yo flies toward you, and that nasty fish and plant too. Oh, vertigo grips you for stunts at dizzying heights, not to mention motion-sickness as well, and that roller-coaster in a mine that's a rip off from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? Yes, your ten-dollar ticket buys you that ride too. In fact, if this was a Disney movie, you can also begin to expect that the action sequences here will get replicated into theme park rides.

Having read the book when I was a kid, it's suffice to say that this is not a straight forward, direct adaptation of the storyline within, but rather an extract of the actionable elements into a full blown excuse to make this movie. And it doesn't take a lot of cerebral effort to make a popcorn movie like this, which is sans intelligent plot, and sans intelligent dialogue as well, at times trying to crack jokes which just fall with a splat. Strip away all the contrived dramatic elements, and you can see just what this movie is all about - a technological showcase which sadly, we got drawn the shortest straw in having the major 3D element missing for the commercial release.

But that's not to say that the movie is not enjoyable. If you like your summer movies loud and with banal dialogue spouted by eye candy cast, and without a need to exercise your mind after a hard day's work, then this movie will serve as perfect fodder for you. And I admit there were a few moments where I was just sitting at the edge of my seat as I observe how the characters get through their difficult ordeal, one which just involves Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson, whom we last saw in Bridge to Terabithia) and a sizable rock. Completing the trio of adventurers are Fraser's scientist character Trevor Anderson, who seem more like a cardboard caricature of his Mummy's Rick O'Connell, and Anita Briem's Icelandic guide Hanna Asgeirsson, whose hiking haversack is exactly like Doraemon's pouch of equipment.

While you get a breather in the middle of the movie as the calm before the literal storm, what irked me was the sloppy editing and the obvious continuity errors that crept into its presentation, one which involves a book with varying thickness due to thumbing through, differing from cut to cut, and the other involves magical bags (not part of the story) which appear and disappear at will and at the story's convenience. But if you're willing to put those aside, then the CGI-crafted landscape does mesmerize from time to time, though not always.

While the genre does put "Children", you might want to re-consider it a little if you intend to bring a toddler to the screenings and then have him/her disturb everyone, as there are intense, frightening sequences that would make your kid scream and maybe cry out loud. Well, if the adults around me had jolted in their seats (and this being a 2D screening mind you) at sudden images being hurled on screen from time to time, then it's not hard to imagine what they'll do to the little ones.

In summary, just pay the price of an admission ticket, and enjoy the ride!

Movie Rating:

(Jules Verne is made sexy again - watch this movie for popcorn entertainment, but read the book for something more intelligent)

Review by Stefan Shih


. The Spiderwick Chronicles (2007)

. The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007)

. The Golden Compass (2007)

. Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (2007)

. The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (2007)

. Bridge To Terabithia (2007)

. Charlotte's Web (2006)

. Zathura (2005)




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