On Sunday, July 13, I saw Journey to the Center of the Earth, starring Brendan Fraser.
I have to confess that I've never read the Jules Verne book the film is based on, but the ride this family-friendly charmer takes you on is nonetheless a pleasant one.
The story begins with professor Trevor Anderson (Fraser) scrambling to save his failing laboratory. It slips his mind that his nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) is showing up for a week-long visit, so when he arrives, he's unprepared for how to entertain him.
Miraculously, the atmosphere is doing exactly what it was doing years ago when Anderson's brother (and Sean's father) disappeared into a volcano, so he takes that as a sign they should go investigate the same land.
Passports in hand, they head for Iceland where they meet up with the daughter of another researcher. Her name is Hannah (Anita Briem), and aside from speaking perfect English, she's an off-the-charts hottie.
Before we know it, the three have embarked on a dangerous hike that leaves them...at the Center of the Earth.
There are many fun effects and beautiful scenes (I especially liked the shining birds) that made me wish I'd seen this in IMAX (I'm told there is a version playing in 3D), but the story is incredibly formulaic and predictable, which is what stops the film from being anything special. And the Indiana-Jones-like one-liners really don't work at all, even with Fraser's undeniable charisma.
That said, overall Journey to the Center of the Earth is a wholesome family film that keeps you entertained in a good way.