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Journey to the Center of the Earth Strictly A 3D Experience

Journey to the Center of the Earth
Directed by Eric Brevig
Written by Michael Weiss, Jennifer Flackett, and Mark Levin based on the novel by Jules Verne
New Line, 2008

Movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth are the future of cinema as the multiplexes try to find that edge in the ever-expanding home theatre market that grows more sophisticated every year. 3D, or RealD, cinema is in its infancy, markedly better than its predecessor when movies like Jaws 3-D came out. This is digital, with more sophisticated equipment and a more realistic environment. It won’t be long after the chains get on board with the digital projectors that many movies will incorporate this technology and it will be as ingrained as the large popcorn.

But, as I mentioned, it is in its infancy, and to stay afloat, movies like Earth also must get released in your every day, run-of-the-mill, 2D analog screens because there simply aren’t enough digital projectors in place for a movie like this to stay exclusively in the format. I watched this average, run-of-the-mill version with two thoughts in mind: this is probably way better in 3D, but this also gives me the chance to see if the movie holds up without the effects.

In Journey to the Center of the Earth, Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) is greeting his nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) for the weekend while mom is away. Sean’s dad, Trevor’s brother, disappeared ten years ago looking for “volcanic tubes” that theoretically travel to the center of the Earth, an idea conjured in Verne’s book, which is acknowledged liberally throughout the film. It’s an obsession of Trevor’s to find the exact same geologic occurrences that happened on the day of his brother’s disappearance, and it just happens to occur during Sean’s stay. Time to get on a plane to Iceland!

In Iceland, they meet up with cute mountain guide Hannah (Anita Briem), who lost her father in similar circumstances. Seems like there are many of these “Vernians” who believe that the author wrote science fact rather than fiction. So, they hike to a volcano, get trapped inside, and in their efforts to try to find their way out, find themselves at the center of the Earth. The title would be totally lying if they didn’t. Down there, they run into glowing birds, crazy plant life, polarity shifts, and of course, a big T-Rex. They also have a chance to find out what happened to their loved ones.

This is a decent children’s adventure, but I would stay away from the 2D version because it just doesn’t do the thing justice. I longed for what could have been, which means in 2D the flaws are more readily apparent. The more I thought about it though, movies like Journey can’t really be judged on this basis because what the filmmakers are shooting for is a wild, cool, 3D spectacle. The limits as to what movie theatres can offer right now in terms of mass appeal in the 3D realm hurt this film big time.

But if you plan to watch this in 3D, you should be entertained and feel you get your money’s worth. Even in 2D, you can at least imagine what some of the sequences would look like and I’d say it would be fairly impressive.

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