Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D is a throwback to the action adventure movies that used to run on The Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday night in the 60s and 70s. You’d watch the show and then plan your vacation to take the ride based on the show at Disneyland or, even better, Disneyworld.
It recalls the family friendly romps of yesteryear, but with its appealing “Gee whiz, we’re going to the center of the Earth!” enthusiasm I think today’s kids will eat up the adventure story and the impressive 3-D effects.
The story is pretty simple; this is, after all aimed at tweens and not the sci fi geeks who would have read the Jules Verne book it is loosely based on. Set in present day, Brendan Fraser plays a scientist who travels to Iceland to search for his missing brother and to prove his theory that there are giant volcanic tubes that connect the Earth’s surface to its center. In tow are his nephew (Josh Hutcherson) and a beautiful Icelandic mountain guide (Anita Briem). While exploring a cave they become trapped and their hunt for an escape route leads them closer and closer to the center of the Earth and the wild landscapes—and creatures—that exist below the surface.
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D is jammed with corny jokes—“Haven’t you ever seen a dinosaur before?” asks nephew Sean as a T-Rex chases them. “Not with skin on it!” says Fraser’s character Trevor—and has cool phosphorescent birds, vicious man-eating plants and treacherous sea creatures all of which should appeal to youngsters, but parent’s don’t have to worry, there’s nothing too intense here or that will give them nightmares. The approximate thrill level is akin to an amusement park ride, which, no doubt, this movie will inspire.
Brendan Fraser anchors the cast as Trevor, and while I miss the actor who once made movies like Gods and Monsters, when he actually tried to act rather than rely on charm to skate by, he still has the chops to out shine the special effects and bring some humor to the film.
I‘m not sure that anyone over the age of twelve is going to want to sit through Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D more than once, but the 3-D effects are good, there’s a strong female role model, the story is exciting and kids will enjoy the adventure.