‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ movie review: old-fashioned Brendan Fraser adventure

Brendan Fraser travels to the center of the Earth in search of his lost brother in Journey to the Center of the Earth, from director Eric Brevig, the special effects whiz behind the FX in films like The Day After Tomorrow, Pearl Harbor, and Wild Wild West (well, the effects were good, right?). 

The film is, admittedly, one of the silliest experiences in recent memory, with little-to no logic and preposterous science, but everything is presented with such a big cheesy grin – and in such a friendly, non-offensive manner – that it just might win you over. 

There’s something about travelling to the center of the Earth that Hollywood just can’t get a grasp on; this is the most scientifically inaccurate film since 2003’s The Core.

Professor Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) heads his brother’s legacy, the Center of Volcanic Activity, at Unnamed University. Brother Max disappeared 10 years ago in Iceland searching for you-know-what; when Trevor notices the same levels of volcanic activity as that fateful day, he heads to Iceland with young nephew (Max’s son) Sean (Josh Hutcherson) in tow. 

Alongside mountain guide Hannah, whose father also happened to disappear 10 years ago, the three begin a journey to find their lost Verneans, who believed that the writings of Jules Verne were based on fact.

Soon yes, they do travel to the center of the Earth, and once there they’re only concerned with getting back. I missed most from the film a sense of wonderment in the Earth’s core and these character’s reactions to it. 

With no real danger – this is, in essence, a travelogue of events rather than an engaging Journey – and what I could charitably call a relaxed pace, things tend to move rather slowly, and this 90-minute feature feels considerably longer.

Almost every single event in the film manages to be illogical and scientifically questionable: mine carts that leap from one track to another; a freefall to the center of the earth that takes less than a minute; a safe ‘water slide’ landing once they get there; magnesium that acts like gunpowder; rocks that manage to levitate in place, flat side up so you can leap from one to the other, in a magnetic field; a Tyrannosaurus Rex that is outrun by a thirteen year-old boy (well, maybe they got slower after years of devolution down there); and the list goes on and on.

While this review isn’t sounding too positive, I did have a good time with the movie. It’s a big, dumb, loving throwback to old B-pictures that manages to be even innocent than Henry Levin’s 1959 version (and that one starred Pat Boone). 

Cynics will have a field day with the film but general audiences should eat it up.

Journey to the Center of the Earth was filmed in a new (and improved?) digital 3-D, and screened as such in cinemas equipped with the technology. 

Prague, of course, will only be getting a flatter 2-D print, and some audience members may be perplexed by the number of shots focusing on yo-yos, rocks, or water droplets attempting to leap out of the screen. 

If done well, I imagine the 3-D experience might have been enough to add another half star to this review; the above rating applies to the 2-D version only.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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