Journey to the Center of the Earth (2-D and Limited-Edition 3-D) [Blu-ray] (2008)

Actors: Brendan Fraser
Color, 3D, Widescreen
English, Icelandic
Aspect Ratio:
Number of discs:
New Line Home Video
DVD Release Date:
October 28, 2008



Cinema patrons of a less impressionable age who saw Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom back in 1984 when it first came out will no doubt remember the first time they saw that mining cart perfectly jump a clearing and rolling their eyes and going, yeah, right.

Since then movies have gotten more even stylized (read: ridiculous) to the point where Hollywood has abandoned all pretences at obeying the laws of physical reality. Today all action movies have become live-action Looney Tunes cartoons.

In one scene in Journey to the Center of the Earth, a movie filmed in 3-D and starring Brendan Fraser, our heroes use an oversized dinosaur skull as a boat and is shot straight up into the air on top of a gushing geyser, right back to the surface world! Wile E. Coyote would have been proud! The mining cart trick incidentally is repeated in Journey. Except this time (in a case of one-upmanship) there are three carts instead of just one making that impossible leap . . .

Sure, pretty much everything in Journey to the Centre of the Earth is ridiculous, right from the premise that the Earth is indeed hollow on the inside (a sci-fi staple as old as the genre itself) and inhabited by ancient creatures such as albino dinosaurs and oversized piranhas.

The story goes that a modern-day geologist (Fraser) and his young nephew (Josh Hutcherson) and their Icelandic mountain guide (Anita Briem) accidentally stumble across the entrance to the center of the earth and discover in the process that 19th century writer Jules Verne was actually telling the truth in his book Journey to the Center of the Earth.

One is not supposed to take any of it seriously, but ultimately the movie is a bit like watching someone else play a computer game (the sets and CGI look astoundingly artificial at times).

There is no real emotional involvement of any sort and Journey to the Center of the Earth is ultimately as hollow as it claims the earth itself is. This Journey isn't bad, just kinda average and undemanding . . .

THE DISC: This is the first BLU-RAY title to be reviewed on this site even though we have watched several titles in this format up till now. Will BLU-RAY replace DVD? I don't know. While it may not be the next Betamax (having beaten out its HD DVD rival), it just well be the next Laserdisc: a niche format that consumers weary of having to constantly upgrade ultimately reject.

Right now it feels a lot like the early days of DVD to be honest. Titles are on the sparse and expensive side and players are temperamental and pricey. While watching Journey to the Center of the Earth my player (a Sony Blu-ray BDP-S300) locked up once and the only way to remedy the situation was to physically unplug the machine ? something which it does occasionally. (It wasn't the disc's fault.)

If you haven't moved to BLU-RAY yet my advice would be to stick it out and wait for the format to gain a wider market acceptance and for prices to drop.

Also, except for the 1080p High definition transfer (which is admittedly stunning) the blu-ray edition of this movie (like many other titles on the new format) doesn't seem to offer any bonus features not found on the DVD version. Both contain 2-D and 3-D versions of the movie and with four pairs of 3-D glasses included. Seeing as the movie is especially made for 3-D it'd be silly to watch it in 2-D but too be honest I found the 3-D glasses (I already wear glasses) to be fidgety and irritating.

Also the 3-D didn't seem to work: the screen just looked kind of blue and stripy and we got a headache in no time and switched to the 2-D version instead. Maybe you'll have better luck though.

WORTH IT? By now you would have decided whether or not to join the BLU-RAY ?revolution? or not. This movie isn't any reason to upgrade your home entertainment but is exactly the sort of noisy special effects movie you can use to show off your, erm, equipment to friends and visitors.

RECOMMENDATION: Worth a rental if you're looking for some undemanding viewing. This is really a ?family? movie which kids will love though. If you have any ten year olds then you might consider a purchase because they'd probably want to rewatch it endlessly.

NOTE: Be sure to check out the World Within Our World special feature which takes a look at the history of the origins of the whole hollow earth thing.



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