29 July 2008

Journey to the Center of the Earth

It is amazing that a novel written in 1864 remains a contemporary inspiration. When Professor Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) chances upon his brother’s notes-riddled copy of “Journey to the Center of the Earth”, he took his nephew, Sean on an expedition to Iceland in search of answers.

Set in modern day, this adapted cinematic experience references a number of the relationships and plot developments as told in the original novel while quickening the pace of the story with the help of technology and perhaps the tried and tested Hollywood storyline formula that effortlessly distills a one-week read to a 90-minute feature film.

Brendan Fraser once again plays his signature typecast of the goofy adventurer, (much similar to The Mummy series) guaranteeing plenty of laughter from comical moments amidst life threatening predicaments. Josh Hutcherson plays the reluctant nephew who will be best remembered in the show for leveraging on Google and hopping from one floating rock to another that is reminiscent of classic video games. Icelandic native, Anita Briem is credible, though plain, as the tough, rugged and beautiful mountain guide that incidentally doubles as the obligatory love interest and eye candy. The characters weren’t exactly complex and effortlessly likable, likely due to the target audience of children.

Intended as a 3D experience, Journey to the Center of the Earth on the normal screens is nevertheless great family fun and a geeky and thrilling theme park roller coaster ride of an experience. Though the 3D version would most likely be much more immersive as the screenplay is generously peppered with 3D gags allowing for the audience to be spit in the face, hit by a yo-yo and splattered by prehistoric mucus. The same technology would have made the mine cart ride sequence, the voyage through the underground sea of prehistoric creatures and a tyrannosaurus rex chase scene much more fun, exhilarating and visually spectacular.

While fast-paced and ceaselessly entertaining, it is a regrettably short and incomplete homage to the great vision and imagination of Jules Verne which would probably disappoint the discerning fans of this literary classic.

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