MOVIE REVIEW- So what? 'Journey' missing only a brain
If you get your rocks off by having someone throw rocks at you (without hitting you) you'll find Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D a multi-orgasmic experience. I haven't seen the 2D, or "flat" version, but I imagine it will just look silly, with things flying toward the camera every few seconds.George of the Jungle. Unlike the latter, here he has more than trees to watch out for, as this update of the Jules Verne novel tosses more crap at him than at the audience.
The result is a well-paced action-adventure with a plot that makes no sense but suffices to hold the action sequences together– sort of like "Indiana Jones...," but way downmarket. It will divert the younger set and adults who crave mindless escapism.
Trevor Anderson (Fraser) teaches a poorly attended university class and is the keeper of the flame at a lab for the study of plate tectonics, named for his brother Maxwell, who went missing ten years ago.
Before you can ask, "Are tectonic plates dishwasher safe?" Max's presumed widow drops off their 13-year-old son, Sean (Josh Hutcherson of Bridge to Terabithia), to stay with Trevor for ten days while she prepares for their move to Ottawa.
The uncle-nephew bonding takes a few minutes to kick in, but because this movie doesn't waste time, they're soon on their way to Iceland to follow up on Max's research. At the former Institute for Progressive Volcanology they meet Hannah (Anita Briem), whose late father had been a colleague of Max's. They were both "Vernians," she explains, who accepted Verne's stories as gospel and believed they could descend to the center of the earth through a volcano.
Hannah's a nonbeliever, but she knows the territory, so she becomes Trevor and Sean's guide (and the object of their mild, PG-level lust) as they head for the nearest mountain and, after a couple of mishaps that would kill any mortal, to the center of you-know-what.
Forget anything you ever learned about physics, biology, geology, evolution and logic, as our heroes take a roller-coaster ride through a mine (a theme park attraction waiting to happen), get chased by mostly prehistoric creatures (hint: a rumored 3D remake of Piranha will be redundant), walk on the equivalent of thin ice without having the sense to stay close to the edge, and endure whatever other cliffhangers three screenwriters can cram in while allowing room for personal growth and family values.
The 3D can be thrilling, annoying or both depending on your point of view. Director Eric Brevig worked in visual effects for 20 years and has made sure his first feature isn't lacking in that department.
Journey to the Center of the Earth has heart and courage. All that's lacking is a brain, and when did that ever stop a summer movie?