Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ With Brendan Fraser Stars Film’s 3-D Effects

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CHICAGO – Jules Verne’s classic 1864 science-fiction novel “Journey to the Center of the Earth” has been adapted well in excess of a dozen times into films, radio and stage plays along with several made-for-TV movies and video games. It has even been adapted into two amusement-park rides.

So what new approach is taken with the Brendan Fraser 2008 remake of “Journey to the Center of Earth”? Well, 3-D glasses. Also, it isn’t so much an adaptation of the book but a very weak narrative film that uses action sequences from the book to make for cool, 3-D effects.

Brendan Fraser stars as Trevor in New Line Cinema's release of Eric Brevig's Journey to the Center of the Earth
Brendan Fraser stars as Trevor in New Line Cinema’s release of Eric Brevig’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth”.
Photo credit: Sebastian Raymond, New Line Cinema

Trevor (Brendan Fraser) is a volcanology professor at a college where he’s about lose his research lab. His sister-in-law drops off his nephew, Sean (Josh Hutcherson), to spend 10 days with Trevor. Sean’s mother also drops off a box of items left behind by his late father.

Left to right: Brendan Fraser stars as Trevor, Anita Briem stars as Hannah and Josh Hutcherson stars as Sean in New Line Cinema's release of Eric Brevig's Journey to the Center of the Earth
Left to right: Brendan Fraser stars as Trevor, Anita Briem stars as Hannah and Josh Hutcherson stars as Sean in New Line Cinema’s release of Eric Brevig’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth”.
Photo credit: Sebastian Raymond, New Line Cinema

In it, Trevor finds a copy of Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth” with notes from his brother and lab partner. Deciphering the notations, Trevor believes the correlation between the seismic readings he has found in his lab and the notes in the book mean something.

That’s why he and Sean travel to Iceland where Trevor’s brother went missing to investigate. There they meet a guide, Hannah (Anita Briem), who’s the daughter of another Verne follower and scientist.

She leads them into a cave where they begin to discover that everything Verne wrote seems to be fact. All of the personalities of these characters seem thrown together quickly and without enough depth.

The narrative itself feels like a forced way to do things that take place in Verne’s novel without actually doing a literal adaptation. The story, which is credited to three writers (Michael Weiss, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin) along with Jules Verne, seems like one of those 40-minute films you watch in IMAX at a museum that’s chock full of science facts.

Left to right: Anita Briem stars as Hannah, Brendan Fraser stars as Trevor and Josh Hutcherson stars as Sean in New Line Cinema's release of Eric Brevig's Journey to the Center of the Earth
Left to right: Anita Briem stars as Hannah, Brendan Fraser stars as Trevor and Josh Hutcherson stars as Sean in New Line Cinema’s release of Eric Brevig’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth”.
Photo credit: Sebastian Raymond, New Line Cinema

Since the film is released for the regular multiplex cinemas, the cheesy and dramatic scenes and corny laugh lines are almost groan worthy. Luckily, these are few and far between to make room for the film’s strongest assets: the action and use of 3-D imagery.

Left to right: Brendan Fraser stars as Trevor, Anita Briem stars as Hannah and Josh Hutcherson stars as Sean in New Line Cinema's release of Eric Brevig's Journey to the Center of the Earth
Left to right: Brendan Fraser stars as Trevor, Anita Briem stars as Hannah and Josh Hutcherson stars as Sean in New Line Cinema’s release of Eric Brevig’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth”.
Photo credit: Sebastian Raymond, New Line Cinema

The best thing to be say for “Journey to the Center of the Earth” is that it’s completely self-aware of what it is.

In a time when every “kid” film tries to speak on two levels to not alienate adults, this film seems to make no attempt at being anything more complex than a “PG”-rated, action-adventure movie.

There’s no attempt to make the characters overly sexual, to include bad slapstick violence or to use spicy language. If you have young kids, you could do no better for a good, clean summer movie than these fun-packed 92 minutes.

The character of Hannah is especially interesting because she’s portrayed as weak damsel in distress who finds safety in Frazer’s big and muscular arms. Briem’s character transforms “Grrrl Power” into a bright, funny and strong woman, which is something that’s not portrayed enough in movies for kids.

RELATED IMAGE GALLERY
StarView our full, high-resolution “Journey to the Center of the Earth” image gallery.

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But the real star of this film is its 3-D effects, which were created by the new RealD Cinema format.

Gone are the days of glasses that are red and blue. Those days have been replaced by stylish, clear-tinted spectacles. The film itself could almost be seen as a 92-minute product pitch to make more 3-D movies. This is a gimmick that hasn’t caught on since the fad hit in the 1950s.

Fans of the book or one of the other many remakes of “Journey to the Center of the Earth” shouldn’t look to this film to do anything that really highlights Verne’s masterpiece.

However, families wanting to see something light this summer while avoiding more aggressive films like “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” or “Hancock” could find some solace at the movies with this picture. People uninterested is seeing Brendan Fraser run from dinosaurs, though, can wait until Aug. 1, 2008 when he’ll be running from mummified corpses in “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”.

“Journey to the Center of the Earth,” which stars Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson and Anita Briem, opened everywhere on July 11, 2008.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Dustin Levell

By DUSTIN LEVELL
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
dustin@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2008 Dustin Levell, HollywoodChicago.com

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