Journey to the Center of the Earth (DVD) (FS/WS)
During a scientific expedition in Iceland, visionary scientist Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser), his nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) and their beautiful local guide, Hannah (Anita Briem), are unexpectedly trapped in a cave from which their only escape is to go deeper and deeper into the depths of the Earth. Traveling through never-before-seen worlds, the trio comes face-to-face with surreal and unimaginable creatures-- including man-eating plants, giant flying piranha, glow birds and terrifying dinosaurs from days past. The explorers soon realize that as volcanic activity increases around them, they must find a way back to the earth's surface before it is too late. With spectacular photo-real environments and revolutionary new filmmaking techniques, "Journey to the Center of the Earth" is an epic adventure that takes audiences directly into the heart of our heroes' voyage, bringing them along for a wild, visceral ride.
When a seismic geologist (Brendan Fraser) discovers his lost brother's notes in a copy of the titular Jules Verne novel, he and his nephew (Josh Hutcherson, Bridge to Terabithia
) head to Iceland. There, joined by a fetching mountain guide (played by Icelandic actress Anita Briem), they get trapped in a cavern and go down, down, down, finally arriving in a primeval underworld full of prehistoric beasts and carnivorous plants. It would be pointless to complain about the empty-headedness of it all; Journey to the Center of the Earth
aspires to be a kinesthetic experience. It wants to engage your adrenal glands, not your brain or your heart (the dialogue and characters are so generic, the script may have been cut-and-pasted from previous versions of Verne's book). Fraser, with his goofy handsomeness and accessible presence, provides a reasonably human axis around which all the frantic flying and swooping CGI effects revolve. The movie is as hollow as the world it depicts, but as mindless action movies go, you could do a lot worse. (Note: Journey to the Center of the Earth
was released in theaters in 3-D, full of whizz-bang demonstrations of how far 3-D technology had come--trilobite antennae quivering towards the audience, a T-rex lunging out of the frame, even affable star Brendan Fraser spitting on us--as well as a half-dozen action sequences clearly destined to become video games or theme park rides.) --Bret Fetzer