Don’t take this ‘Journey’ |

Don’t take this ‘Journey’

Roger EbertUniversal Press SyndicateAspen, CO Colorado
In this image released by Warner Bros., Brendan Fraser, left, Josh Hutcherson and Anita Briem, right, are shown in a scene from "Journey to the Center of the Earth." (AP Photo/Warner Bros., Sebastian Raymond) ** NO SALES **
AP | Warner Bros

There is a part of me that will always have affection for a movie like Journey to the Center of the Earth. It is a small part and steadily shrinking, but once I put on the 3-D glasses and settled in my seat, it started perking up. This is a fairly bad movie, and yet at the same time maybe about as good as it could be. There may not be an 8-year-old alive who would not love it. If I had seen it when I was 8, I would have remembered it with deep affection for all these years, until I saw it again and realized how little I really knew at that age.You are already familiar with the premise, that there is another land inside of our globe. You are familiar because the Jules Verne novel has inspired more than a dozen movies and countless TV productions, including a series, and has been ripped off by such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, who called it Pellucidar and imagined that the Earth was hollow and there was another world on the inside surface. (You didnt ask, but yes, I own a copy of Tarzan at the Earths Core with the original dust jacket.)In this version, Brendan Fraser stars as a geologist named Trevor, who defends the memory of his late brother, Max, who believed the center of the Earth could be reached through volcanic tubes. Max disappeared on a mysterious expedition, which, if it involved volcanic tubes, should have been no surprise to him. Now Trevor has been asked to spend some time with his nephew, Maxs son, who is named Sean (Josh Hutcherson). What with one thing and another, wouldnt you know they find themselves in Iceland, and peering down a volcanic tube. They are joined in this enterprise by Hannah (Anita Briem), who they find living in Maxs former research headquarters near the volcano he was investigating.Now begins a series of adventures, in which the operative principle is: No matter how frequently or how far they fall, they will land without injury.I mentioned 3-D glasses earlier in the review. Yes, the movie is available in 3-D in selected theaters. Select those theaters to avoid. With a few exceptions (such as the authentic IMAX process), 3-D remains underwhelming to me a distraction, a disappointment, and more often than not offering a dingy picture. I guess setting your story inside the Earth is one way to explain why it always seems to need more lighting.The movie is being shown in 2-D in a majority of theaters, and thats how I wish I had seen it. Since theres that part of me with a certain weakness for movies like this, its possible I would have liked it more. It would have looked brighter and clearer, and the photography wouldnt have been cluttered up with all the leaping and gnashing of teeth. Then I could have appreciated the work of the plucky actors, who do a lot of things right in this movie, of which the most heroic is keeping a straight face.Journey to the Center of the Earth New Line Cinema presents a film directed by Eric Brevig. Running time: 92 minutes. Classified: PG (for intense adventure action and some scary moments). Rated: Two stars.

Ann HornadayThe Washington PostMovies shown in 3-D are like fireworks: You can tell how successful they are by counting the ooohs in the audience. And there are plenty of ooohs to be had in Journey to the Center of the Earth, the latest iteration of the Jules Verne classic and one that uses modern cinematic technology with verve and ingenuity.College geologist Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) and 13-year-old nephew, Sean (Josh Hutcherson), find themselves on an impromptu trip to Iceland, where a volcano is showing unusual activity. With the help of a gorgeous mountain climber named Hannah (Anita Briem), they get to their desired destination, only to be shunted into an abandoned mine during a thunderstorm. From there, theyre hurled farther downward until they reach the titular center of the Earth, which looks remarkably like a 1972 Yes album cover.Kidding aside, Journey to the Center of the Earth is terrific family entertainment, an action comedy on a par with Night at the Museum and National Treasure. Granted, there are scenes of frightening peril, such as when saber-toothed fish jump out of the water directly into the audiences collective lap. But any fear is quickly dispelled by the films light sense of humor, abetted by Frasers warm, easygoing style.

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