Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 2008. New Line Cinema, , Screenplay by Michael D. Weiss, Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin, based on the novel by Jules Verne. Cinematography by Chuck Shuman. Produced by Beau Flynn, Charlotte Huggins. Music by Andrew Lockington. Production Design by David Sandefur. Costume Design by Mario Davignon. Film Editing by Steven Rosenblum, Paul Martin Smith, Dirk Westervelt.
Think of it as a commercial for a theme park or a Happy Meal and you might not be so put off by it. Seismologist Brendan Fraser lives with the sorrow of his brother’s disappearance by continuing his work studying earthquakes in a university lab. The same day that his late brother’s son (Josh Hutcherson) is dropped off to be babysat by Fraser, our hero discovers evidence that the lamented sibling went off exploring a volcano in Iceland before vanishing, a trail that Fraser and the boy decide to follow. When they arrive there, they team up with an Icelandic mountain guide (Anita Briem) whose late father had gone on the same quest: as it turns out not to study earthquakes but to verify the factual nature of Jules Verne’s novel Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. Their trip into a volcano and down to the planet’s core is one full of silly stunts with a ridiculously unbelievable survival rate that only gets more out of hand as the film progresses. Director Eric Brevig (former visual effects artist and Oscar winner for Total Recall) is well aware of the hokey nature of the material and therefore doesn’t try to sell it as anything more serious than it is: he directs with his finger on the fast forward button and even includes some uncomfortably lame humour to make sure you know not to expect too much. It’s no rich tribute to Verne, but it’s pleasant and fun and the kids will definitely enjoy it.