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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2008
VIAJE AL CENTRO DE LA TIERRA was a Spanish live-action coproduction that received limited distribution in 1978 in the United States by International Picture Show under the title WHERE TIME BEGAN; it was initially titled JULES VERNE'S FABULOUS JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. Made for $2 million, WHERE TIME BEGAN was shot over a period of five months, and uses most of Verne's major incidents.

WHERE TIME BEGAN opens with a pre-credit discussion of the interior of the Earth by a group of geologists, with Professor Otto Lidenbrock (Kenneth More) commenting that the only way to prove any of the theories is through an actual descent. The credits follow, superimposed over a pleasant salute to the Vernian visual style of Georges Méliès, but marred by an inane song on the soundtrack.

The date of the story is shifted to 1898, to make it more contemporary for the audience, in both technology and social mores (such as the place of women). In Hamburg, an aged man tries to sell several old volumes at a book store; they are bought by Lidenbrock. Arriving home, he finds the soldier Axel accidentally kneeling before his niece Glauben, and assuming there has been a marriage proposal, gladly but offhandedly offers his consent. Glauben notices the small note that falls from the book, and together Lidenbrock, Axel, and Glauben, with the help of the cinematically referential device of a magic lantern, discover the key to Saknussemm's code.

Under the same necessity to add a feminine lead as other versions, WHERE TIME BEGAN follows a vastly simpler method. Glauben wants to go on the trip, and her practicality proves a valuable assistance to the absent-minded Lidenbrock and equally ill-prepared Axel. By contrast, it is Axel who is uncertain, hesitant, and reluctant; the juxtaposition of his equivocation with Lidenbrock's certainty and Glauben's eagerness provides humor that was not in the novel.

The exteriors of the expedition's beginning and exit through craters were taken at the Lanzarote volcano in the Canary Islands, providing a barren, other-worldly appearance that almost resembles a moonscape. Although the reddish plains scarcely resembled Iceland, a series of extreme dramatic zooms impressively isolates the cast amidst the desolate location, providing a more dynamic lead-up to the descent than in the 1959 movie. The plunge into the Earth was shot a half-mile inside caves near Madrid, with the lighting effectively dark and claustrophobic.

When Hans's pickaxe thrust releases boiling water, it burns the hand of the man Glauben had seen in the darkness--who finally introduces himself as Olsen (Jack Taylor). The underground sea seems to have a healing physical power over the members of the expedition. Glauben notices that Olsen never seems to require sustenance, and his only tool is a copper-colored metal box he carries with him (which unfortunately resembles in size and shape nothing so much as a metal tea-kettle).

The sequence around the underground sea is, as in the novel, the centerpiece of the story, and the full treatment of this setting and the incidents around it--the island, the dinosaurs, the storm--with a large degree of fidelity to Verne, make WHERE TIME BEGAN noticeably different from other films of the novel. Filters turn the ocean a deep shade of greenish-blue aqua, contrasting with the orange of the land; the striking color combinations make the setting all the more convincing.

Washed ashore with the wreckage of their raft and their equipment after the storm, Axel and Glauben go in search of Olsen, passing through a field of fossils and into a forest. At this point, WHERE TIME BEGAN becomes increasingly far-fetched. Axel and Glauben are suddenly attacked, not by the ten foot prehistoric man of Verne's imagination, but by a giant ape, failing to connect with Verne's evolutionary link. Olsen comes to the rescue, and allowing them to glimpse a whole city of men who resemble him.

Olsen sets off an explosion that will open an escape for Lidenbrock, Axel, Glauben, and Hans, saying he will find his own way to safety. The scene comes rather suddenly, and is confusing in its brevity and lack of explanatory dialogue. WHERE TIME BEGAN avoids saying whether the expedition actually reached their destination or not, so there is no sense of the downward distance they have traveled.

In a coda, Axel and Glauben have married, Hans is once more a prosperous sheepherder, and Lidenbrock still haunts the old bookshop. One day, he learns that a parcel has been left for him, and, unwrapped, it proves to be Olsen's metal box. Looking toward the shop window, Lidenbrock sees an aged man, the same one who brought in Saknussemm's journal--and recognizes that he is "Olsen." This parallel closure brings the film back to where it began.

Is Olsen perhaps meant to be Arne Saknussemm himself, or a representative of his pioneering spirit? Either or both could be true; Olsen stands in for the absent predecessor whose earlier journey they are recreating. Significantly, Olsen appears after Lidenbrock loses Saknussemm's original book, and will rescue the travelers at the point where Saknussemm's last carving of his initials appears. He is less of a full-fledged character than a symbol, a vivid reminder of the theme of time that, in the form of evolution, was such a motif of the novel.

The cast credibly enact their roles, particularly Kenneth More, despite his age. The special effects (by Emilio Ruiz) are variable; the dinosaurs are far less convincing than those of the 1959 version, but WHERE TIME BEGAN also attempts to do far more with them, the previous film not even attempting to stage the battle at sea. The most consistent virtue is the impressive photography by Andres Berenguer, especially the volcanic surfaces, the caves, and the underground ocean. Judged by its own standards and scale, WHERE TIME BEGAN must be rated a very satisfactory although uneven effort.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2005
It's kind of amusing that everyone thinks that this version of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH starring EMO PHILLIPS is actually the spanish film WHERE TIME BEGAN. Of course it does not help that MGM and AMAZON have listed the credits for WHERE TIME BEGAN, which is also an adaption of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. This film is actually from 1988 and I think even more obscure than WHERE TIME BEGAN if such a thing is possible.

I bought this version knowing it was not WHERE TIME BEGAN. I wish it was WHERE TIME BEGAN because I love that film. I have never seen this 1988 version starring comedian EMO PHILLIPS but I have always wanted to.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This was BY FAR the worst rendering of Journey to the Center of the Earth I have ever seen in my life! I couldn't believe I spent $5 on this movie--to think I could have had a Cold Stone instead...

Initially, this movie doesn't even remotely closely follow the Verne classic. There is nothing even remotely familiar in here--Pat Boone playing an accordion all the way down was a closer rendition--and that's saying something. About the only thing that is similar to the classic novel is the fact that there is a journey to the center of the earth.

Second, the setting isn't really all that accurate. A matte painting is used for the "volcano," and it doesn't even look like a real volcano from any geology textbook I've read (and I was a geology major specializing in volcanic seismology...). Worse, the type of volcano illustrated doesn't even exist in Hawaii. The eruption indicated is a physical impossibility in the islands.

Thirdly, Atlantis. Really? Please. This is an insult to my intelligence. Verne MUST be rolling in his grave...

Fourth, the plot. It's as if the writer just grew tired of the story (or the film ran out of money) and it just STOPPED. Dead. No rising action. No falling action. No action.

SAVE YOUR MONEY! Do not buy this. Go to Cold Stone instead. You'll thank me for it. My copy has already been placed into the shredder. It doesn't even rate a viewing at my Sunday night heckle parties.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2010
I've watched most the Journey to the Center of the Earth movies....this one.....not worth your time. It will be going to a garage sale or the Goodwill very soon.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2010
Two vacationing teens and a British nanny discover a subterranean world beneath a remote island cave in Hawaii. The adventure takes them through the center of the Earth and into the lost city of Atlantis, where they must battle hideous creatures and escape from the unwelcoming locals. This 1988 adaptation of the classic Jules Verne novel was cut desperately short after the closure of the original production company. The end product suffers dramatically as a result, and appears to be poorly scripted and poorly edited due to the drastic cuts, abrupt ending, and incomplete plot. What does remain from the original version shows a great deal of promise, however. JOURNEY's elaborate sets, child-like wonders, and sinister creatures recall other epic 80's fantasies like LABYRINTH or THE DARK CRYSTAL. Atlantis is depicted as a bleak industrial city-state ruled under martial law, led by a maniacal general that plans on invading the surface world. Unfortunately, the viewer is only given glimpses of many of the more ambitious sequences, which never made the final cut. Had Rusty Lemorande been given the opportunity to complete the film, it could have made for a fun and energetic teen fantasy, but the existing version is critically flawed in almost every way possible.

-Carl Manes
I Like Horror Movies
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2009
I really like the Journey to the Center of the Earth movies but this was not very good. I would say my least favorite of all that have been made so far.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2012
this movie is terrible dont waist your money on it it not even a complete movie its all cut up at least 45 mins is missing and there is no monsters like on the front picture they made that a dream and it makes no sense because the plot goes from the middle of the story right to the end with out showing you the main them i wish i could give it no stars because it was that bad they should of not even released it at all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2009
this is not a well made, realistic, or sensible movie. that being said, i think everyone should watch it. it's kooky, stupid, strange (without explaining itself), and it ends abruptly... basically, it's a conversation starter and something that will make you appreciate every other movie you ever watch.

you should get it, watch it, show it to your friends and feel like a better person.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2009
I made the mistake of not reading the reviews on this - I was like so many others wanting to get another version of Jules Verne's story - and this is just pure stupidity! I didn't even finish watching the movie - I threw it in the trash. At least I didn't pay a lot for it -
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2012
Don't waste your time or money. This is an 80's B movie. The end is spliced together from another B movie the Alien from LA. Which makes no sense. The action scene that is on the cover is a dream sequence.
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