BLOGS

Journey to the Center of the Earth: At Least the 3D is Good If you have a brain -- and for your sake, I really hope you do -- there are moments in Journey to the Center of the Earth that will make you cringe. There's that whole "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the center of the Earth" thing (it's in the trailer; watch and find yourself embarrassed for Brendan Fraser). There is also an unnecessary -- and unnecessarily schmaltzy -- obligatory love story. And, because it sort of comes from out of nowhere, the cheesiness of that romance will catch you off guard and you won't even be able to brace yourself against the ridiculousness.

There's also the small matter of Brendan Fraser's non-acting. He really hasn't done much more than act like himself throughout his career, as far as I'm concerned. His best performance was in Gods and Monsters, and he was playing a big, dumb doofus there, so ... possibly not much of a stretch. But, as usual, he's likable anyway.

In Journey to the Center of the Earth, Fraser plays science professor Trevor Anderson, who is working to prove his dead brother's theories about there being stuff (yes, "stuff"; just because they're supposed scientists doesn't mean I am) inside the Earth other than all of the stuff we learned about in geology. The funding is about to get cut when seismic activity starts to act up. At the same time, his nephew comes to visit. Next thing you know, they're chasing the volcanic activity to Iceland where they hook up with a hot mountain guide and the three of them go for a hike and end up taking the titular journey.

Brendan's acting isn't all bad, though. There are a couple of moments when he'll make you laugh out loud. It's not the script, necessarily, and, come to think of it, he's probably not even acting -- you get the feeling he's actually sort of a fun, jovial chap in real life and when he's being comical, that comes across. Those are the moments when you sort of get a glimmer of his magic and understand how he's turned The Mummy into a successful franchise.

So, there's not much substance to Journey to the Center of the Earth, but it is in RealD, which does add something. Or, more accurately, it adds pretty much all the "something" this movie has to offer. Strip away the 3D and the movie is absolutely horrendous and not worth even renting on DVD. But with it, at least you've got a fun ride for the duration of the movie -- including a couple moments that are likely to make you jump, and several that will make you want to reach out and touch whatever looks like it's hanging out of the screen.

On the other hand, the 3D might actually have been what killed this movie -- that and the fact that it's Journey to the Center of the Earth -- because the filmmakers clearly focused on how to make it work in 3D and absolutely nothing else. No, really. Nothing else. Script problems? Who cares? Effects aren't working? No problem! Hide it behind the 3D!

This is actually a great idea. Hollywood, are you listening? Next time you have a movie so bad that you have no idea what to do with it, try putting it in 3D and people will at least enjoy looking at it. This might have at least given The Love Guru one redeeming quality: "Okay to look at."

I'll allow that one thing Journey to the Center of the Earth has going for it (besides the aforementioned 3D) is that it's not another adaptation of the Jules Verne novel or a remake of the earlier movies. Rather, the book is written into this tale as a fiction that a certain group of people ("Vernians") study and believe to be fact. So, as all of the craziness plays out, the characters keep commenting, "Well, yeah, this happened in the book," or, as Trevor's nephew says when he first sees the dinosaur: "Man, I wish I'd read that book."

It doesn't necessarily excuse the ridiculousness of sea monsters (to say nothing of a sea), a T. Rex, and a complete biosphere inside the Earth (sky and all, natch), but at least the writers placed the blame for the lunacy firmly on Verne instead of accepting any of it themselves. After all, if you want to make a movie that you know is a ridiculous concept, just adapt a ridiculous book and then it's not your fault, right?

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