Monday, July 14, 2008

Journey To The Center Of The Earth

This movie is pretty much exactly what I expected it to be. It's an action filled, special effects extravaganza that's short on everything else. Unfortunately, it wasn't playing in 3D at my theater, so I didn't have the opportunity of spending an extra five dollars for that experience. So maybe I didn't get the whole brevity of the movie, but I find this unlikely.

It's difficult to really attack the story. Obviously it's based on Jules Verne's classic novel of the same name- perhaps one of the greatest adventure stories of all time. The problem with this one is the drastic character change. In the book, the professor is an intelligent academic. In the movie, he's Brendan Fraser. In the book, his nephew is in his 20's, and able to hold his own, not very fitting for the 15 year old Josh Hutcherson. And finally, the book employs a rugged Icelandic sherpa, instead of the young Anita Briem. I guess that was an attempt to bring the story to a younger audience. But instead I feel that none of these characters could really handle themselves in this situation.

I'm always dubious about when a movie is directed for 3D stereoscopic projection. It tends to influence illogical shot construction, and an excessive amount of things coming straight at the camera. Flashlights, dinosaurs, and slime are all a part of this. So when you watch it not in a 3D theater, it just looks kind of dumb. As far as the effects themselves go, they're fine. The story is inherently whimsical, so glowing birds, giant dinosaurs, and rather stylish magma despite being over the top, doesn't seem all that out of place.

Some of my favorite moments are still there, even if they don't follow the book very closely. The vast underground ocean fulfilled its thrillingly obligatory scenes, and there was an interesting sequence with Hutcherson leaping across floating rocks, baring a strange resemblance to video game jumping puzzles. I imagine that will play prominently in whatever video game tie in they come out with.

There were a few fun moments, but on a whole, they movie was just dull. When something is made for 3D, that influences the directing choices a bit too much. I really hope this isn't going to be a trend, because it makes for a weaker movie. I'm sure audiences won't be drawn in by these gimmicks. Unfortunately, however, I think people will continue to be drawn in by Brendan Fraser.


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