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Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D (***)
directed by Eric Brevig
written by Michael Weiss, Jennifer Flacket, and Mark Levin, based on a novel by Jules Verne
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D
Principal Cast
Brendan Fraser -- Prof. Trevor Anderson
Josh Hutcherson -- Sean Anderson
Anita Briem -- Hannah Ásgeirsson
Seth Meyers -- Professor Alan Kitzens
Jean Michel Paré -- Max Anderson
Jane Wheeler -- Elizabeth Anderson
Frank Fontaine -- Old Man
Giancarlo Caltabiano -- Leonard
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Jules Verne really wasn't a very good writer. The James Mason, Pat Boone version of Journey to the Center of the Earth really wasn't a very good movie. Neither is this one. But I have a soft spot in my head for all three. They have charm.
"Descend into the crater of Sneffels, when the shadow of Scartaris touches it on the calends of July, audacious traveler, and you will reach the center of the earth. I did."
—Arne Saknussemm
If those words don't raise the hairs on your forearms, then maybe journeys to the center of the Earth aren't for you.

There are many translations of Verne's novels, and the bad translations are generally better than the good ones. Verne was a stuffy, verbose writer, and a bigot to boot, and so a translation that turns his prose into pulp is usually more readable than a faithful translation. I first read Journey to the Center of the Earth as an Ace paperback, and that's still my translation of choice. The idea of a trip to the center of the Earth was nonsense even by the science of Verne's day, but it's a glorious idea, and if you only read one novel by Verne, this should be it. Around the World in 80 Days is also fun. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and its sequel, Mysterious Island, have their moments. After that, I find Verne just about unreadable, though I have pushed my way through half-a-dozen more.

The Pat Boone, James Mason film is silly to the point of foolishness, with scientist Mason mistaking the pecking of a duck for Morse code, to give one example of many. But I have fond memories of Gertrude the Duck, of Thayer David as the incorrigibly villainous Count, and of those poor lizards with floppy fins glued to their backs. I have no idea what someone seeing it for the first time today would make of it.

Just as silly is the new 3D version. I have a bit of advice for the people who make 3D films. The first 3D films were careful to make the edges of the picture appear further from the audience than the edge of the screen. The new 3D doesn't seem to be careful about anything at all, and so what could be a nice special effect is spoiled when the edge of the screen cuts off part of something that your depth perception tells you is in front of the screen.

But some of the 3D effects are a lot of fun and if you see the film at all you will certainly want to see it in 3D. My favorite effect is when the kid has to cross a cavern on floating "magnetic" rocks. Floating magnetic rocks are impossible on too many counts to mention, but the effect looks good, and this is not a movie that takes science seriously.

Soak your brain in a big bag of butter popcorn, and enjoy the show.

Cookies throughout the credits.

Copyright © 2008 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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