Main cast: Brendan Fraser (Prof Trevor Anderson), Josh Hutcherson (Sean Anderson), Anita Briem (Hannah Ásgeirsson), Jean-Michel Paré (Max Anderson), and Jane Wheeler (Elizabeth Anderson)
Director: Eric Brevig
Journey to the Center of the Earth is not another remake of the classic story by Jules Verne. Okay, it is, as we have another gang going down into this marvelous but dangerous subterranean world of dinosaurs and what not, but this movie plays on the premise that perhaps that story is true. Oh okay, the real reason why this movie was made is probably because they wanted to promote a new ride in Disney World, as that will explain why this movie is like a 90-minute roller coaster ride.
The story is familiar to everyone, I’m sure, with just some cosmetic variations. Prof Trevor Anderson is trying to keep his MIA brother Max’s research going, but funding cuts mean that his brother’s lab is about to be turned into storage. And then his sister Elizabeth drops her teenage son Sean at Trevor’s place, as Trevor had earlier agreed (and later forgotten) to take the kid for ten days. Elizabeth also passes Trevor some of Max’s belongings, among them a copy of Jules Verne’s book (guess which book).
Trevor soon discovers some scribbled notes that led to the possibility that Max had ventured into a dormant volcano in Ireland in search for the truth behind Jules Verne’s tale. Naturally, Trevor – with Sean tagging along – travels to Ireland and meets Hannah, the daughter of a late professor that Max contacted shortly before his disappearance. While fiddling around, they end up taking a trip down into Earth, and right into a familiar story.
The cast is a big reason as to why this movie turns out to be pretty entertaining. Brendan Fraser has lost his six-pack abs and display a physique more realistic to that of an university professor, but he still retains that goofy enthusiasm to throw himself into comedic roles that make his character a fun one to follow. Josh Hutcherson is not irritating at all, and that is a plus. And while Anita Briem’s role is typically that of eye candy and token female sidekick with a contrived chemistry-free attraction to Trevor, she manages to make her character likable and hold her own pretty well in this movie.
The scenery is pretty, but the CGI is a bit off, particularly in that raft scene when the sea monsters surrounding our trio are obviously computer generated, because the wind turbulence and waves never seem to affect the raft realistically. But there are plenty of fast-paced scenes of people dashing or falling or being caught in a tide, so this is one action-packed movie constantly in motion.
Really, this one doesn’t offer anything new to the whole center of the earth thing that other remakes hadn’t done before. But it’s still a fun way to pass the afternoon. Think of this as an entertaining 90-minute flashy ad for Disney World’s new ride.