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Journey to the Center of the Earth(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 and the Journey to the Center of the Earth Blu-ray release, see Journey to the Center of the Earth Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 30, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 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 Blu-ray Review
Take the journey and enjoy Blu-ray in 3-D!
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 30, 2008
The influence of Science Fiction spreads far and wide. Credited with revolutionary ideas and innovations, inspiring generations of scientists, and engendering a sense of awe at the natural wonders of the world and piquing the curiosity of the unknown in countless millions of fans, the genre -- as enjoyed through a wide array of mediums, including literature, comics, radio, television, and cinema -- has left an indelible mark on the modern history of mankind. The writings of H.G. Wells, the characters and society created by Gene Roddenberry, or the broadcasts of Orson Welles serve not only as entertainment, but create worlds of wonder and mystery, offer visions of a better tomorrow, or forewarn of the possible dangers of tomorrow, today. One of the genre's most famed storytellers and pioneers, Jules Verne, was a visionary of his time, a Leonardo of sorts, envisioning the fantastical, the mysterious, the unreachable, and long before mankind caught up to his genius, he penned adventures both fantastical and foretelling, sending readers on adventures around the world, beneath the sea, to the moon, and into the center of the Earth. Now, more than 140 years after the novel's publication, New Line Cinema's aptly-titles Journey to the Center of the Earth arrives, the film itself a conglomeration of more than 100 years of innovation, showcasing the advancements of cinema, cinematic techniques, and motion picture delivery into the home. Only a century ago, the technology on display throughout the film and as now displayed on home theater systems around the globe, was the thing of far-reaching, perhaps even unimaginable, Science Fiction, yet is today a reality, and a stunning and magnificent one at that. Jules Verne would be proud.
Professor Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), keeping for a brief time his nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson, Bridge to Terabithia), discovers his missing brother Max's copy of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. This edition contains numerous clues and guidelines, in Max's own handwriting in the margins, about what seems to be a real adventure to the center of the Earth -- and the professor and his nephew head to Iceland to begin piecing together the clues, and perhaps discover Max's whereabouts. Teaming up with Hannah, an Icelandic mountain guide, who believes Max to have been a "Vernian," an individual who believes the writings of Jules Verne to be science fact rather than science fiction, the trio set out on their search and soon find themselves descending deeper and deeper towards the planet's remarkable, yet deadly, center.
Journey to the Center of the Earth is obviously a 3-D movie first and foremost, but the filmmakers smartly crafted a good story and endearing characters to compliment the film's primary draw, but more on that in a moment. The 3-D component of the film works extraordinarily well, and translates wonderfully to home viewing. There are only several shots in the film that are literally "in your face," gimmicky moments meant more to set the stage for the experience and wow viewers with a few initial surprises before the film settles into its groove. Viewers will see an insect's tentacles reach out and try to scrape across their faces; a tape measure will stretch out of the screen and into the living room; audiences may never brush their teeth again without thinking about the film. As the movie settles in and the journey begins, there are times where the 3-D imagery becomes almost routine, losing a bit of steam and wonder over time, but the film always manages to throw something at audiences that remind them just how novel and wondrous the process is. Journey to the Center of the Earth was the perfect film in which to incorporate 3-D, and the perils and pitfalls of the harrowing journey are brought to vivid, exciting, and oftentimes breathtaking life.
Journey to the Center of the Earth is nothing but a good old family-friendly adventure, a film anyone can enjoy given the right frame of mind and willingness to suspend disbelief and delight in what is a magical, fascinating, and thrilling ride. While the film isn't the most smartly written or the best acted, it is more than a gimmick and it manages to move along briskly and embrace several good ideas that make the film better than it should be. First, and most obvious, is the film's incorporation of the Jules Verne novel. The film smartly doesn't borrow the title and act as if the novel doesn't exist. Instead, the actual novel plays an important role in the movie, becoming a character in and of itself that aids the adventures along their journey perhaps even more so than any tool they utilize throughout. The film also creates a magnificent, yet not overly stylish or far-fetched, "center of the Earth." Filled with amazing yet believable creatures, some that are recognizable, some that are not, replete with beautiful locales yet foreboding horizons, and tricks and traps that place the characters in peril but remain grounded in a plausibility, the film smartly ties itself together, easing ideas previously introduced in the film to the forefront later as knowledge gleaned or obstacles conquered early in the film return to help the heroes in the film's exciting final act. Last but not least, Journey to the Center of the Earth offers a few scenes of genuine emotion, shared amongst the characters and transfered to the audience. Many audience members will laugh and cry, scream and shout, reveling in every second that is the Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Journey to the Center of the Earth Blu-ray, Video Quality
Journey to the Center of the Earth's main visual attraction is its 3-D rendition, and the effect is generally seamless. Home theaters become a three-dimensional paradise of eye-popping visuals as material literally leaps through the screen. When viewing 3D, the colors have a reddish-purple tint about them and objects are often accompanied by some ghosting, but the sacrifice in some fields is worth the novelty of the 3-D experience. The visuals give a whole new meaning to "3-D pop," and if the future of home theater is indeed 3-D imagery, bring it on, assuming viewers are provided the option of a traditional 2-D experience as New Line offers here. The standard transfer, presented in 1080p and framed at 1.78:1, offers decent, but not exemplary, high definition material. As the film opens, colors are a bit pale and blacks lean towards the gray and overly bright end of the spectrum. The image is incredibly bland and looks unnatural in 2-D. Nevertheless, as the film moves along, fine detail improves; an old generator found in chapter seven looks appropriately old and worn, as it shows signs of rusting, chipping, denting, and heavy use. As the film progresses into the dark, cavernous "center of the Earth" locales, detail on the whole picks up, flesh tones look more natural, and the imagery appears somewhat sharper. It's still a rather phony looking transfer, flat and seemingly free of noise at normal viewing distances. It's an adequate but subpar transfer that pales next to the 3-D version, which is how the film should be viewed, anyway. Nevertheless, the film's primary draw, the 3-D presentation, is impressive, and the transfer receives 4/5 Blue "Bs" as a result.
Journey to the Center of the Earth Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Journey to the Center of the Earth includes only a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an obvious and unfortunate blunder by New Line/Warner Brothers. As it is, the track is decent, with plenty of rear-channel activity and bass, but nothing stands out as remarkable or exciting, and the experience isn't up to par with the charm of the film, the excitement of the visuals, or the adventure theme of the picture. Nevertheless, dialogue reproduction is strong, and the film's score flows nicely from the front speakers. The rear channels don't see much action until 20 minutes into the film where a storm atop an Icelandic mountain engulfs the listening area, as thunder booms and crackles, as lightning bolts strike down from the heavens and onto the harsh terrain. Surrounds come to life with discrete sound and atmospherics rather often, and the track is fun to listen to, if not a bit underwhelming on the whole from a volume and clarity standpoint. One thing the soundtrack does well is its faithfulness to some of the visuals and certain audio cues that work in perfect harmony with the 3-D imagery. For example, the killer fish attack sequence in chapter 13 shows several of the attacking aquatic beasts jumping straight into the living room, and the soundtrack follows it perfectly from front to back. Far from the awesome sound effects and pitch-perfect soundtrack that is The Incredible Hulk, for example, Journey to the Center of the Earth manages to be just good enough to keep audiences in the film, but the soundtrack simply doesn't match the power and excitement of the film's visuals, and it's a shame that New Line/Warner Brothers dropped the ball on such an important and enjoyable title as this.
Journey to the Center of the Earth Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Journey to the Center of the Earth adventures onto Blu-ray with several supplements. First up is a commentary track with director Eric Brevig and actor Brendan Fraser. From the get-go, the actor and director settle in for a comical yet informative commentary track. Fraser takes the reigns and leads the track with Brevig seemingly in a secondary role, but he, too, offers fine insights. They offer serious comments on the necessary plot points that move the film along and that support the effects, establishing characters the audience cares about, a discussion about the strengths of the other actors, filming some of the more challenging scenes, and more. The track works because of its easygoing nature, and fans of the picture and the participants, particularly Brendan Fraser, will greatly enjoy this commentary experience. A World Within Our World (1080i, 10:09) is an easygoing, entertaining look at the various theories that discuss what could be deep below the Earth's surface. Being Josh (1080i, 6:00) is a child-centric look at how the film's young star lives, works, and learns on the set of Journey to the Center of the Earth. Finally, How to Make a Dino Drool (1080i, 2:47) takes a closer look at one of the film's messier gags. Disc two of this set contains a digital copy of the standard 2-D film, and as one might expect, the wishy-washy visuals carry over here. Heavy blocking in the blacks is an issue throughout, as is banding. The image retains a slightly washed out appearance in the early segments but grows stronger in the film's later segments in the Earth's center. The sound is surprisingly tiny and uninteresting, and only moderately loud at 3/4 maximum volume.
Journey to the Center of the Earth Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Journey to the Center of the Earth offers a genuine sense of wonder, excitement, and adventure, all the while reveling in its compelling imagery that is only gimmicky to a point and never heavy-handed. The movie will leave only but the most jaded of audiences smiling and satisfied thanks to to its easygoing, honest, family-friendly approach to adventure. New Line Cinema's Blu-ray release of Journey to the Center of the Earth features dazzling 3-D imagery. The effect comes alive like never before in the home, thanks to the improved resolution of Blu-ray, and the ability to play the film back on large screens with little loss of clarity and fine detail makes this format ideal for 3-D material. Unfortunately, the studio has failed to provide a soundtrack that is up to the standards of the high definition experience, and a rollicking adventure film such as this one definitely suffers as a result. Fans are treated to several entertaining supplemental features. Despite its lack of proper audio elements, Journey to the Center of the Earth will make a fine addition to most any Blu-ray library, and is a film that may be enjoyed by every member of the family. Journey to the Center of the Earth, recognized as one of Heartland's "Truly Moving Pictures," comes Recommended.
Journey to the Center of the Earth: Other Editions
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