STUDIO: New Line Home Video
MSRP: $15.49
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
• Commentary by Brendan Fraser and director Eric Brevig
A World Within Our World

Being Josh: Profiling 12-year-old Josh Hutcherson
How To make Dinosaur Drool
• Adventure at the Center of the Earth Challenge

The Pitch

Hey, maybe that Verne guy was onto something.

The Humans

Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem.

The Nutshell

College professor Trevor Anderson (Fraser), his nephew Sean (Hutcherson) and an Icelandic mountain guide, Hannah (Briem), journey into a volcano in order to gain information on the whereabouts of Trevor’s brother, Max, who disappeared years before.  Their journey inadvertently takes them to the very center of the planet where they discover an incredible world of geological oddities and prehistoric creatures.  They also discover that Jules Verne’s epic book, Journey To The Center of the Earth may have been based on fact.  However, even as they arrive there, they embark on another journey to get back before the lava surrounding the fantastical world threatens to make it uninhabitable.

“Oh shit!”
“Is that an Orc over there?”

The Lowdown

The first impression upon seeing Journey To the Center of the Earth is that it comes off as a fully theatrical version of one of those theme park rides like Body Wars.  This is partially true as it was filmed to be shown in 3-D with the relatively new Real 3-D technology, which doesn’t require two projectors, but rather a much higher resolution digital process.  The result is an incredibly lush and vibrant-looking picture that doesn’t even really need the 3-D glasses in order to jump off the screen. 

Fraser didn’t know what was worse: the fact that he was about to plummet to his death or the fact that Arnold Vosloo was above him, still bugging him to be in the next Mummy movie…

Still, a lot of the action is scripted to make use of the 3-D look, including falling into the pit that leads to the center of the Earth and the return trip, a Temple of Doom-style mine cart ride, floating rocks, a T-Rex, and even Brendan Fraser spitting out his morning toothpaste onto the screen.  This really is an impressively-shot and rendered visual spectacle.  I have a plasma TV, but not a Blu-Ray player and this is still perhaps the sharpest movie I’ve ever seen on it.  I can only imagine how it would look in HD.

Yeah, I’m pretty much sold on the theory we’re evolved from fish…

In terms of the story, I look at Journey for what it is: a fun family adventure meant to draw you into the action.  On that level, it succeeds nicely.  The movie is very aware of its intended audience and doesn’t drag or let too much time elapse from one incredible set piece or action sequence to the next.  Even when something’s obviously coming, like the T-Rex sequence, the film still manages to deliver the goods.

Journey’s also the perfect type of vehicle for Brendan Fraser, who specializes in fantastical, zany and humorous action adventure.  This was a pretty big summer for Fraser, who had not only this film, but the latest Mummy movie coming out only a few weeks apart.  I was much more satisfied with his work in this film than Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which just didn’t have the feel of the first two films in that series, which I do like, especially the original. 

Fraser was about to find out that payback for that salad he ate earlier was going to be a bitch…

In the aforementioned Mummy series, George of the Jungle, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Encino Man, Bedazzled, and other films, Fraser has carved himself a niche of being bankable in either action, comedy, or a blending of the two.  Here, he’s a little campier than normal, but considering the tone and audience of the film, it works out fine (FYI, there’s a pretty good message board discussion of him started by that wild man, Tati here).  Fraser virtually carried the entire movie.  In terms of his co-stars, they’re both fine also.

The Ann Coulter cameo was a big hit…

So that answers the question of the 2-D, what about the 3-D?  Well, it’s about what you expect.  At times it works fairly well, other times not so much.  And when it doesn’t work, the film just looks washed out and it loses its luster.  There are ven times when things that are supposed to be 3-D only get duplicated and off center.  I could only get through the places I knew that were supposed to be really 3-D.  I found the film much easier to watch in 2-D.

Fraser: “Oh my, that’s exhilirating!”
Hutcherson: “Riding a geyser on a dinosaur skull?”
Fraser: “No, I just relieved myself…”

The Package

An annoying thing about this DVD is that it’s one of those double-sided deals, with the 2-D version on one side in widescreen and standard and the 3-D version in both formats on the other.  As mentioned, the film at times looks simply stunning, even without the 3-D elements. The sound is also good in either English or Spanish Dolby 5.1.  There are also English and Spanish subtitles.  There’s a commentary by Brendan Fraser and director Eric Brevig.  A World Within Our World is a ten-minute retrospective on other stories that dealt with a subterranean world beneath our own and is narrated by Anita Briem and features interviews with a scientist and an author. 

To the guy who requested the Brendan Fraser golden shower screen cap: sorry, this was the best I could do…

Being Josh
is a six-minute featurette that follows Josh Hutcherson on set as he prepares for a day of shooting.  How to Make Dino Drool is a quickie piece on making the drool that hits Josh Hutcherson in the face.  Finally, Adventure at the Center of the Earth is a game where you can either navigate the mine car track or bat the giant fish that threaten to chomp you on the raft.  These are for kids mostly and give you the nice Dragons Lair or Cobra Command replay of your failure should you screw up.

7.4 out of 10