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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, October 30, 2014 - Edition No 921 

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JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH

SYNOPSIS:
When scientist Professor Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) agrees to look after his nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) for 10 days, he also discovers similarities in the earth's shifting tetonic plates to the circumstances at the time of the disappearance of his scientist brother Max (Jean Michel Paré). He sets off to check his electronic probe in Iceland, with Sean in tow. They meet up with local guide Hannah Asgeirsoson (Anita Briem), whose father ran the volcano research institute near Reykjavík, who agrees to guide them to the possible source of the volcanic activity. But they discover a fantastic and dangerous world of strange animals and plants in the center of the earth.

Review by Louise Keller:
Giant fossilised mushrooms, flying fish with massive teeth, glowing bluebirds, a rollercoaster ride on an underground mine railway and magnetic floating rocks are some of the ingredients of this 3D adventure take on Jules Verne's classic sci-fi novel. It's an appealing family adventure and the striking 3D effects add not only novelty but some wow factor, enhancing the loose retelling of the 1959 film with James Mason, Pat Boone and Arlene Dahl. Brendan Fraser spitting toothpaste in our face is one of the first 3D wake-up calls, followed by a dancing yoyo, the jaws of a dinosaur, a super-long free-fall that leads into a giant airpocket surrounded by lava and more. Fraser is a likeable protagonist, aided by an impressive 16 year old Josh Hutcherson as his quick-to-learn nephew and real-life Icelandic actress Anita Briem as the cool, calm and collected glamour-guide Hannah.

Fraser's Professor Trevor Anderson has a bad memory. Not only does he forget that his nephew Sean is coming to stay while his mother relocates to Canada, but he doesn't remember he hates field work until they are in dire circumstances in Iceland, searching for clues left in the margins of his late brother's copy of Jules Verne's novel. The real adventure starts when Trevor and Sean are taken by Hannah to the centre of the earth. Then it's a matter of survival as they climb, fall, sail over cliffs, abysses and oceans as they try to find their way home.

There's plenty of action, special effects and touches of humour as man, woman and child use their wiles to counter the upside-down reality in which they find themselves. It's a predictable, entertaining, non-demanding ride and with Fraser at the helm, we are happy to tag along.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Not so much a movie more a movie ride, this 3D adventure plays like a series of set pieces using live action and digital effects like some sort of demo. Sure, it is loosely based on the classic Jules Verne adventure, but it has had the magic blood drained out of it. This is strange because it takes imagination and invention to conjure up a world that is so exotically placed within our planet. And the conjuring is done very well, showing us thrilling escapes and dramatic chase sequences. The dinosaur is less than fresh, though, and the carnivorous plant is a bit wimpy, but the sharp fanged flying fish attacking our heroes on their makeshift raft on the underworld ocean are excellent, especially in 3D.

Speaking of our heroes, all three central characters are top notch, with Brendan Fraser hovering between machismo and action-conservative academic, Josh Hutcherson shifting neatly from brattish teenager to resourceful adventurer junior, and Anita Briem outstanding as the no-nonsense Icelandic guide with a sweet nature and firm grip on reality.

But the stars here are the novelties of 3D, which certainly make it fun - just a tad repetitive for anyone over 25, I suspect.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (PG)
(US, 2008)

CAST: Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem, Seth Meyers, Jean Michel Paré

PRODUCER: Beau Flynn, Cary Granat, Charlotte Huggins

DIRECTOR: Eric Brevig

SCRIPT: Michael D. Weiss, Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin (novel Jules Verne)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Chuck Shuman

EDITOR: Steven Rosenblum, Paul Martin Smith, Dirk Westervelt

MUSIC: Andrew Lockington

PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Sandefur

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

Playing at select 3D locations in 3D

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 25, 2008







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