Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem
There are some things you should know before you see "Journey to the Center of the Earth," a 3-D version rather loosely based upon the Jules Verne classic.
First, and this is rather obvious, this IS a 3-D film. It is meant to be seen in 3-D, and seeing it in 2-D will undoubtedly knock it down a notch for you. This means, as well, that you will be wearing 3-D glasses in order to get the maximum cinematic experiences. I will add, however, that the glasses are a massive improvement upon 3-D glasses of yesteryear.
Secondly, and I'm repeating myself again here, this film is not meant to be seen in 2-D. "Journey to the Center of the Earth" is designed to be a full sensory cinematic experience. 3-D is absolutely required and it should be on an IMAX screen for full effect.
I'm telling you. on a 2-D screen you will notice that there's really not much of a script here. On a 3-D screen? Honestly, who cares?
Brendan Fraser, who's about to bring a third "Mummy" to the big screen, really is quite perfect for the role of the adventurous Dr. Trevor Anderson, while Josh Hutcherson is delightful as Anderson's along for the ride nephew. The two meet up with an earnest guide (Anita Briem, an Icelandic actress in her first major American feature film).
What follows is nonsensical. If you can't suspend reality, then "Journey to the Center of the Earth" is most certainly not for you. It is a fun, silly, family friendly and reasonably entertaining 3-D extravaganza blessed with a cast who takes it seriously enough to make it exciting but light enough to capitalize on the inherent campiness of it all.
First time feature film director Eric Brevig has been nominated for an Oscar twice for his visual effects ("Pearl Harbor" and "Hook"), and his first time behind the camera indicates an ability to manage a cast nicely in a film where the special effects are really the stars of it all.
For those of you who've never witnessed a 3-D film, "Journey to the Center of the Earth" may be the perfect place to start. With Hollywood set to churn out nearly a dozen 3-D films in the coming year, "Journey to the Center of the Earth" gives you a great idea of what to expect and is rewarding enough to make it worth the extra bucks that IMAX theatres often charge.
While much of what occurs in "Journey" isn't plausible, it's seldom played for laughs. The script by Michael Weiss isn't dumbed down so much as it simply celebrates the outlandish nature of it all in ways that are fun and entertaining.
Fraser has very much become a go to actor for lighthearted family fare, and "Journey to the Center of the Earth" is one of his best efforts. Similarly, after a few early missteps, Hutcherson is rapidly becoming one of America's best young actors while Briem will undoubtedly see more offers come her way after her performance here.
Silly and light, "Journey to the Center of the Earth" is a 3-D adventure safe enough for the whole family, though young children vulnerable to big screen frights may not adapt quite so easily to the larger than life chills and thrills that come with 3-D viewing.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic