Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
Decidedly neutral. That’s how I would classify my response to the cover and menu. The action isn’t intriguing and it looks pretty cut and paste, but not in a good way. I know it’s 3-D and the slip cover has that effect happening when you turn it side to side, but it’s not very interesting for me. The cover doesn’t do the movie any favors, I’ll just say that. I like the movie, as you will read, but this cover is a real flop of an effort to make it fun inside and out.
- Commentary By Brendan Fraser & Eric Brevig – These days I expect more from the whole Blu-Ray world. I am paying more and I want more. A commentary is cool, yes, but it’s also something that should be standard. Fraser describing the action of each scene is kind of funny, with the occasional input from the director, but it’s not a big bonus these days. Get the whole cast, the writer, the producer (if she or he is interesting).
- A World Within Our Our World Various historical Hollow Earth Theories (HD) – Very informative. I never knew there was a religion that declared that we live inside the earth’s outer crust looking out into the center of the globe..if you know what I mean. It’s fascinating. They cover other myths and ideologies that lead to a book like Journey to the Center of the Earth. Good extra.
- Being Josh Profiling 12 Year Old Costar josh Hutcherson (HD) – We get to follow the leading young man around the set for a few minutes. Not super exciting, but fun to see behind the scenes of a kid actor’s life.
- How To Make A Dinosaur Drool (HD) – Not interested at all. We see how they took time, effort, and resources to come up with some slimy stuff that fell onto the kid’s face.
The Movie: 5/10
This is the kind of adventure that makes kids go into the backyard and act it out, scene by scene. I like that about Journey To The Center Of The Earth. It’s not a great movie. There are lots of flaws, no real science to back it up, and several continuity issues, but so what!! It’s actually pretty fun. This journey isn’t much above a standard mediocre flick, but that’s no reason not to like it. Sometimes a good time is more important than nitpicking about things that might not be perfect.
Speaking of not being perfect, I hate 3-D. The color looks like crap, and the 3-D moments were not much of a pay off for the darkness that blanketed the whole thing with those damn glasses on my head. I’m not a fan of that fancy 3-D stuff, but that didn’t impact what I thought of the movie just as a cool little adventure flick.
The leading man (Fraser), a scientist about to lose his college lab for research of volcanic activity on Earth, is visited by his thirteen year old nephew (Hutcherson). The nephew is the son of the scientist’s dead brother. The dead brother was also a scientist who was studying the volcanic disturbances around the world.
Quickly we are taken out of the suburban comfort of the uncle’s messy house to the snowy mountains of Iceland and are introduced to the female interest (Briem), a mountain guide who’s father was also a volcano scientist. Whew. yea, that’s how fast it goes from one point of the story to another. Fair enough. I wasn’t that interested in the build up, I’ll be honest. I wanted to get to the center of the friggin’ Earth!!
It does take a few tension filled moments to finally fall through some thin glass like rock, fall fall fall fall, presumably thousands of feet/miles/yards? I’m not sure. It’s a pretty funny scene though, they fall and keep going, even talking through some of the descent. I don’t think I’ve seen dialogue happening during a long distance plunge before.
Once they get to the Earth’s center they find some cool stuff, of course. Jules Vern’s original novel is pretty much the heart of not only the whole story, but these characters have a copy of the book and discover that what they thought was all fantasy is real. So, the book isn’t just the inspiration of the movie, but it plays a role smack dab in the middle of it. I like that.
There are dangers, risks, some sad moments, and a few poor special effects mixed in for good measure. The dead brother/father plays a key role in the drama, and there is a sliver of a love story developing through out, shock!!
The performances were good. I’m not a Fraser fan but he was fine and dandy for this role. The teenage boy and the mountain guide are both believable and likable, which leads me to the main thing that makes me like this movie. I cared about these folks. I know, I know, it’s corny and sappy, and soooooo obvious, predictable, and lacking any originality whatsoever, but there’s fun to be had here people. If you want to be nasty and criticize the flaws, the fantasy science, and the questionable special effects, grow up, and then pretend you are a 10 year old kid…trust me, it makes it much more enjoyable.
Audio & Video: 7/10
Journey To The Center Of The Earth is the first 3D movie I have seen in a long time. The technology, while not much different to the old drive-in movies of the 50’s, does seem to work better than it used to. I used to get an extreme headache when viewing a 3D movie, but this time that didn’t happen. The only problem I do have with this 3D presentation on home video is using the two-colored glasses makes the actual colors of the movie totally off. You do get a great depth of field effect but any scene that involves sky or people in bright clothes either appears bright green or bright purple. You might get used to this after a few minutes but it doesn’t really show off a movie like this on Blu-ray.
Fortunately Warner include the 2D version of the movie and you can switch between the two on the fly using the pop-up menu. The 2D version looks great and is in line with other Warner releases in terms of visual fidelity.
For some reason Warner have chosen again to use lossy audio. This is really strange as Blu-Ray is all about quality and using the sound directly from the DVD version doesn’t make sense. Still we get what we are given and luckily the soundtrack from the DVD version is a standout track with lots of bass and some interesting surround sound which helps this kind of movie a lot.
I’m a firm believer that some movies are meant to be watched many times. Sometimes it’s a movie that’s for kids, like Journey to the Center of the Earth, and for them to watch it many times you might be making a good investment…but don’t get the Blu-Ray version. Go for the better picture with the standard DVD. With the Blu-Ray you do get the digital copy, sure, but you need to spend another 5 bucks just to watch it.
If you don’t plan to watch it over and over, because you are a grown up, just rent it in real life or from an online service. It’s a good time, but not good enough for me to want to buy it and have it on my shelf forever.
Overall Score 6/10