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Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D(2008)
A science professor's untraditional hypotheses have made him the laughing stock of the academic community. But on an expedition in Iceland, he and his nephew stumble upon a major discovery that launches them on a thrilling journey deep beneath the Earth's surface, where they travel through never-before-seen worlds and encounter a variety of unusual creatures.
For more about Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D and the Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D Blu-ray release, see Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on January 15, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Anita Briem, Josh Hutcherson, Seth Meyers, Jane Wheeler, Kaniehtiio Horn
Director: Eric Brevig
» See full cast & crew
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D Blu-ray Review
Hungry for a live-action, kid-friendly adventure shot in native 3D?
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, January 15, 2012
With Journey 2: The Mysterious Island set to hit theaters in February (minus Brendan Fraser and Anita Briem, plus Dwayne Johnson and Michael Caine), Warner Brothers is giving Journey to the Center of the Earth fans a series refresher; presented in full 3D and featuring, for the first time, a lossless audio track. In his review of Warner's 2008 2D Blu-ray release, staff writer Martin Liebman had this to say about the original film: "Journey to the Center of the Earth offers a genuine sense of wonder, excitement and adventure, all the while reveling in compelling imagery that's only gimmicky to a point and never heavy-handed. The movie will leave all but the most jaded of audiences smiling and satisfied thanks to to its easygoing, honest, family-friendly approach to adventure."
For the purposes of this review, though, I'll be concentrating on the new 3D Blu-ray release of Journey to the Center of the Earth, its 3D presentation and experience, and Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track; in my estimation, the 3D version's greatest asset and the number one reason some of you should consider replacing your 2D copy of the film.
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Journey to the Center of the Earth is a bit of a live-action rarity. With so many studios settling for less than spectacular 3D conversions, come hell or high water (ahem, come Clash of the Titans or The Last Airbender), it's nice to sit down and watch a film shot in native 3D, presented via a proficiently encoded 3D transfer and built, from the ground up, in 3D. At least in principle. Sadly, Warner's 1080p/MVC-encoded Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D video presentation is reminiscent of an early '90s direct-to-video green-screen bash rather than a feature film released just four years ago. Yes, gimmick-driven 3D elements give all manner of flying objects and charging creatures an opportunity to escape the confines of the screen, and yes, the image offers a relatively convincing sense of depth that doesn't reduce the film's more assertive 3D scenes to pages in a pop-up book. Shooting in native 3D captures an infinite number of points in real space, meaning Earth isn't hindered by manually established planes and distances; Fraser and company retreat into the backgrounds, dinosaurs lunge into the foreground, and overall dimensionality is more lifelike than it would have been with a 3D conversion. But that doesn't mean the image pops. Far from it. Contrast is dull, dusty and inconsistent, color and clarity are plagued by a distinct digital sheen, black levels are often tainted by a blue-gray chalkiness or a pickled-pink glow, primaries and skintones sometimes lack oomph, and middle-of-the-road fine textures leave many an object looking as if it's been cast in plastic. That's not to say something troubling is necessarily amiss. This is, by and large, the film director Eric Brevig intended us to see, even if the subsequent 3D failings, low-grade visual effects, errant softness, and shoddy green-screened sets disappoint in high definition.
What doesn't disappoint? 3D enthusiasts shouldn't have to contend with any crosstalk or aliasing, as Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D isn't prone to either. (If you do notice any ghosting, keep in mind that such anomalies are almost always a product of individual 3D displays and glasses; not signs of a flawed technical encode.) Detail and edge definition are decidedly decent, particularly when it comes to closeups that haven't been subjected to heavy-handed color correction, noise reduction or CG-integration techniques. And there are a number of 3D shots that do their job and do it well, making the 3D version of Journey a more entertaining experience than its 2D counterpart. Moreover, artifacting, crush and banding don't make any significant appearances, and the only other notable oddity I noticed -- aside from some intermittent smearing that I believe traces back to the source -- involved brief bursts of noise during the last fifteen minutes of the film (when Trevor, Hannah and Sean are making their way back to the surface of the planet). All in all, there isn't anything terribly "wrong" with Journey to the Center of the Earth's 3D presentation or transfer, but there also isn't really anything extraordinary (or even exciting) about it. Perhaps if the 3D Blu-ray edition were being made available in the $15 range, but at $30-plus? I suspect most 3D fans will regret paying top dollar for an average 3D presentation. From its theatrical trailer alone, I'm guessing Journey 2 will deliver a much more engaging 3D experience and a more worthwhile 3D Blu-ray release.
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
If you're a fan of Journey to the Center of the Earth, the new 3D edition's biggest selling point will be its satisfying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Warner's 2008 Blu-ray release of the film didn't include a lossless audio option -- just a standard Dolby Digital mix -- and it was almost worth the wait. Dialogue is clean, intelligible and effectively prioritized, underground ambience and cavern acoustics are more immersive than the 3D visuals, and every last effect is present, powerful, and accounted for. LFE output is hearty and commanding, adding hair-raising chills to the monstrous foot falls of a dinosaur, shivers to Trevor and Sean's near-bottomless plummet into the planet, and just the sort of crust-cracking, plate-shifting, lava-spewing thooms and booms you've been waiting for. Rear speaker activity is quite good as well, even though directionality is rather hit or miss and the resulting experience is a tad artificial at times. Scattered debris scatters nicely, vicious vines snake their way across the soundfield, and birds flitter, rocks topple, steam hisses, fire sprays and water shoots from channel to channel with ease. Granted, Andrew Lockington's score isn't showcased nearly as well as it could be (it tends to get buried in the ensuing chaos), but that's really my only lingering complaint. Audiophiles will pick up on some sound design hiccups too, but none of it amounts to a major distraction. Ultimately, Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio mix saves the release from 3D-bargain-bin doom and gives diehards another (I'd say better) reason to pick up the 3D edition.
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D has its moments. Its 3D presentation has its moments, its video transfer has its moments, its audio commentary has its moments, and its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track certainly has its moments. But it isn't a consistent experience, not by any means, and the unwieldiness takes its toll. If you have a deep love of Journey to the Center of the Earth, or don't already own a copy, this version is definitely the way to go. It's pricey, I'll admit, but between its excellent lossless audio track and its decent 3D presentation (problematic as it may be), the 3D version offers more bang for your buck. Personally, I'd wait for it to go on sale, but with Journey 2 falling into theaters next month, you may not be willing to wait that long.
Journey to the Center of the Earth: Other Editions
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Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D Blu-ray - November 1, 2011
Next year, Warner Home Entertainment and New Line Cinema will bring Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D to Blu-ray. This version of the Brendan Fraser-starring family adventure presents the film in full HD 3D; previous Blu-ray editions only used Anaglyph 3D. ...
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