Journey to the Center of the Earth (New Line Cinema, PG)

film_journey_sm.jpgTrust me when I say that Journey to the Center of the Earth does its best work in the center of the Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You know how we like our summer films: big, fast-paced, fun and adventurous. Good thing, then, that Journey to the Center of the Earth fits the bill, even if the story leaves a bit to be desired.

Professor Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) is having a tough time. His classes barely meet admission requirements, his scientist brother has been missing for over ten years and he just found out his department budget has been cut. Trevor is about to begin sulking when he gets a visit from his nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson). It isn’t long before the two stumble upon a possible location for Sean’s missing father and head to Iceland to try finding him.

Trust me when I say that Journey to the Center of the Earth does its best work in the center of the Earth. Everything before and after Trevor and Sean’s adventure falls so flat, it’s almost painful. The scenes between Trevor and, well, pretty much everyone are boring, poorly written and not very well acted. As with any movie with an obvious gimmick (hello again, 3D filmmaking), basic scenes are forced to fit the mold of that gimmick, and interest beyond that point seems to be sacrificed.

Take, for instance, a scene in which Trevor tells Sean about his dad’s favorite book. Instead of a moment where we feel a young son yearning for a father he never really knew as he hears details about his dad he’s never heard before, we get Trevor shoving a book into our faces. So much for emotion, guys.

The one thing the script absolutely does right is to take into account the Jules Verne novel on which the film is based. I was pleasantly surprised that the filmmakers chose to acknowledge the book, the idea that a world within the world would be crazy and the fact that scientists often become fascinated with proving or disproving the ideas of sci-fi writers.

Journey to the Center of the Earth picks up considerably once Sean and Trevor meet Hannah (Anita Briem), their Icelandic mountain guide, and start exploring. You may be able to fault some things about this movie, but certainly not their use of the fantastic.

There are caves filled with precious gems, toothy fish, dinosaurs, man-eating plants and much more to feast your eyes and imaginations on. And if you’ve ever wondered what magnetic rock surfing or surviving the heart of a volcano would be like, they’ve got you covered there, too.

If you’re taking the kids, feel free to ignore the first half hour and last ten minutes of the movie. Not only will you not miss much, you’ll enjoy yourself even more. | Adrienne Jones

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