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Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D


Stars: Brendan Fraser, Anita Briem, Josh Hutcherson

Director: Eric Brevig

Movies are primarily made for paying cinemagoers, not critics burdened with scholarship, auteur worship and genre expectations. The reaction of the 'ordinary’ non-reviewing members of the audience at the screening of this zestful science fiction adventure I attended proved this to the hilt. Unburdened by genre preconceptions or the fear of being seen to enjoy a commercial movie, the majority reacted happily and exactly the way debuting director Brevig must have intended. How many films can claim that?

The title tells all. Jules Verne’s classic tale, memorably filmed in 1959 with James Mason, that era’s singing idol Pat Boone, and a duck, has been skilfully revamped and updated to take scientist Fraser, with his initially grumpy 13-year-old nephew Hutcherson, to Iceland to follow a clue to the lad’s long lost father’s disappearance. Soon, along with their improbably beautiful local guide Briem, they are heading towards the earth’s core and a series of rousing and exciting adventures…

Genre buffs will doubtless be irritated by the patent universal audience appeal of an exciting adventure whose highlights, including a wild race in hand-carts along an ancient mine railway line and various vertiginous climbs and spectacular cave collapses, might well bring sour Indiana Jones with envy. The special effects, topped by a genuinely scary pursuing T Rex, are excellent and thrillingly enhanced by state-of-the-art 3-D filming. In this respect, Brevig is to be congratulated for getting the major traditional ‘in-your-face-and-make-you-jump’ 3-D sequences, one notably involving a yo-yo, over early and then making the most of the technique to enhance first rate storytelling. It may not be art as we know it, Jim, but it is first rate family entertainment, played with infectious gusto by the three principals.

Alan Frank

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors. Colour.
92 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 06 Jul 2008