TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 March 2014
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 3D  [3D Blu-ray + 2D Blu-ray] Same Planet, Different World!
Director Eric Brevig's adaptation of the classic Jules Verne adventure story is the first live-action feature to be shot in digital HD Blu-ray 3D. His scientific theories rubbished by his eminent colleagues, Professor Trevor Anderson [Brendan Fraser] sets off on a backpacking trip to Iceland to get away from it all with his nephew Sean Anderson [Josh Hutcherson] and local guide Hannah Ásgeirsson [Anita Briem]. Stumbling across a previously unknown cave system, the explorers soon find themselves journeying deeper and deeper into the earth's core, on a rollercoaster ride into an unknown world populated by man-eating plants, lava lakes, and some seriously hungry dinosaurs.
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem, Seth Meyers, Jean Michel Paré, Jane Wheeler, Frank Fontaine, Giancarlo Caltabiano, Kaniehtiio Horn and Garth Gilker
Director: Eric Brevig
Producers: Alex Schwartz, Arni Hansson, Beau Flynn, Brendan Fraser, Cale Boyter, Charlotte Huggins, Don MacBain, Douglas Jones, Evan Turner, Michael Disco, Mylan Stepanovich, Toby Emmerich, Tripp Vinson and W. Mark McNair
Screenplay: Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin, Michael D. Weiss and Jules Verne (novel "Journey to the Center of the Earth")
Composer: Andrew Lockington
Cinematography: Chuck Shuman
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish
Running Time: 92 minutes
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1
Studio: New Line Cinema
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Jules Verne once said “Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real.” And director Eric Brevig has done just that, as he has made the fantastic world that Jules Verne imagined come into a near-reality in his film ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D.’ He was able to do this through technological advances made in stereoscopic 3D filming. I believe this was the first live-action film to be shot in 3D during the infancy of 3D’s return. While having the obvious intent of introducing us to what 3D can do and paving the way for the success of the 3D ‘AVATAR,’ and this film also tells an enjoyable story that does well on its own even without 3D.
There's a lovely visual gag in ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D’ that sums up what's good about it. We're trapped in a chasm 20 minutes in, and Trevor Anderson [Brendan Fraser] is dangling on the end of a rope in fear for his life. He must be cut loose, or he'll pull everyone else down with him. Snip goes the rope, and he plummets about six inches, getting a light bump on the floor of an old disused mine. It's a big laugh, and such a simple, retro one it leaves you smiling for minutes.
The story is centred on the adventures of the Anderson family. Max Anderson [Jean Michel Paré] disappeared while on an expedition; he was never found and is assumed dead. The story begins ten years later with Trevor Anderson [Brendan Fraser], Max Anderson’s brother. He is a geologist, and the university where he works is planning to close down his lab. He has become so focused on his own troubles he had forgotten that he had agreed to spend time with his nephew Sean Anderson [Josh Hutcherson] before he moved away to Canada with his mom. So when Sean arrives, the house is a mess and Uncle Trevor is caught off-guard, having made no plans. Sean Anderson, who didn’t want to be there in the first place, is not impressed. Trying to connect, Trevor Anderson decides to go through the box of Max Anderson’s belongings that Sean Anderson’s mum had left for him. Amongst other nick-knacks and gadgets, they come across Max Anderson’s copy of Jules Verne’s “A Journey to the Centre of the Earth” in which he had documented his final research prior to the expedition that lead to his disappearance. The information they find leads them to believe that Max Anderson had disappeared in Iceland while searching for a passage to the centre of the earth.
They decide to make their own way to Iceland and investigate what happened to Max Anderson. Together with newly met Hannah Ásgeirsson [Anita Briem], the daughter of a scientist Max Anderson knew, they discover that he was searching for what most thought was only a fictitious story, the passage to the centre of the earth "documented" in Jules Verne's famous novel. They recruit Hannah Ásgeirsson as a guide and head into the mountains to search for any signs of Max Anderson and his research. A wicked lightning storm forces them into a cavern to shelter them from the storm, but the storm in its ferocity causes the entrance to collapse behind them. So having no other options the group starts their journey into the earth.
After finding their way to the bottom, or should I say falling their way down to the centre of the earth, they discover a world within the world just like Lidenbrock, the character from Jules Verne’s book, had described. It is filled with an assortment of prehistoric creatures and plants, and covered with lakes and rivers. To reach the escape passage they seek, they must battle the harsh environment that surrounds them and all the monstrous creatures that call it home. Will they prevail or will their discovery die with them? To find out, gather your family and join the journey on this great family-friendly adventure, and don’t forget your 3D Glasses!
Eric Brevig has hit this one out of the park, as his direction of the cast brings out the chemistry between the characters that plays out well on screen. Brendan Fraser is always a joy to watch on screen and I think the selection of this cast, especially for the three primary cast members, was extremely well done. I really enjoyed watching Brendan Fraser compete with Josh, who's just a teenage boy, for the attention of Anita, and while this could easily turn out to be a little creepy, they aligned the actor's and characters ages and personalities up just right so that it seemed natural. Eric Brevig also found a lot of ways to add to that third dimension of this film without sacrificing the story or character development. The show moves along at a great pace and does a good job of keeping your attention. ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D’ is loosely based on a classic work of literature, but at no point does it take itself too seriously, it will keep you laughing from start to finish. This film is one that you can enjoy by yourself or for a family night, as the show is good clean fun with little to no language.
Blu-ray Video Quality – Both versions of the film are here in full 1080p encoded image quality, with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Depending on which version you're watching, the video tends to be a mixed bag. The 3D video image is outstanding and is also good in the standard 2D versions. Detail was really sharp and the cinema photography was choreographed very well. Director of photography Chuck Shuman deserves recognition for creating such a masterful piece of art work. I do have to complain about the lighting at times where they added some glow to the image in different shades of colour. That just didn't seem to look very natural to me, although it was the intended effect by the director. Other times they took short cuts on set and to me those were noticeable as well. The lighting works somewhat better in the 3D version and looks like a more natural presentation.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – I hope nobody has their pitchforks around when I say this, but there's no 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track for this release. Instead, we're given an amazing awesome 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. This is a film that takes a journey to one of the most beautiful and bizarre places (literally) in the world, so it's no surprise that the audio representation for this release gives your whole system a pretty decent workout. There's a nice dynamic range that leaves voices easy to hear, and increases the volume during the action to a loud level that won't make your kids cry thinking their eardrums had burst. There does appear to be a little distortion once in a blue moon, which is kind of disappointing. You'd have to really listen for it, as it's nothing that's consistent by any means, but a high definition audio track should have been available for this release.
3D Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary: Commentary with Director Eric Brevig and actor Brendan Fraser: They provide for a jovial atmosphere joke session and quip their way through an otherwise thorough commentary, covering everything from Journey's development to its characters, visual effects, 3D shoot, and scenes that proved more difficult than either man anticipated. As audio commentaries go, this one is decidedly non-essential listening for all but the most pumped-up of fans.
Special Feature: A World Within Our World  [10:08] An ironically shallow look at several leading theories about what lies deep beneath the surface of the Earth. It is the best feature, giving an overview of relevant historic scientific theory regarding the "hollow earth" used as the basis for Jules Verne's novel. Narrated by Anita Briem.
Special Feature: Being Josh  [6:00] A day in the life of young Josh Hutcherson's experiences on set. We follow Josh in his trailer and on the set of the film. It's not really a fun watch, but your children might enjoy seeing someone closer to their own age behind the scenes.
Special Feature: How to Make a Dinosaur Drool  [2:47] Features Josh Hutcherson, Eric Brevig and the men responsible for the horrible goop in question, explaining how they made and employed T-rex spittle. Finally, the set includes access to a digital copy of the film, so kids on the run can continue to enjoy the fun.
Finally, the 3D effects are definitely the icing on the cake and if your idea of a treat is having a woodlouse poke its antennae into your near vision, then you are in for a treat. But the best news is a nicely judged script that doesn't come off too aggressive - more gently joshing - and three actors doing the best they can to give it some personality. Brendan Fraser (who also produced) is an impressively unflappable stalwart by now at this running and screaming business, and his relaxed professionalism gives you the instant feeling of being in safe hands. When he tosses Josh Hutcherson some tome about Atlantis at the end, paving the way for another adventure rich with peril and pointy things, and it is a type of 3D film that is an enjoyable repeat viewing. I thought I might hate this film, as I have always been a massive fan of the original 1959 ‘Journey To The Centre Of The Earth’ film, but I was totally won over and so pleased I have now added this to my Blu-ray Collection and if you want to impress people with a stunning 3D, then this is a very good 3D reference Blu-ray disc. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom