Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D (2008)

Rated: PG for intense adventure action and some scary moments.
Length: 92 minutes
Grade: AB+NGNG=A
Budget: $60 million
Box Office: $204 million (101 U.S., 103 Intl)

Written by: Uh, Jules Verne, of course. With some updating by Michael Weiss (Butterfly Effect 2, Death Train, and I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer), and the team of Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin (Nim’s Island, Little Manhattan, and Wimbledon)
Directed by: Eric Brevig, with his first major movie, but he’s done visual effects on a ton of stuff (The Island, The Village, The Day After Tomorrow, The Hunted, Pearl Harbor, Wild Wild West, Men In Black, Total Recall, Hook, The Abyss) so he knows how to make things look cool.
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, and Anita Briem.

Just as his program is about to be shut down, seismologist Trevor Anderson is on the verge of a breakthrough regarding volcanic tunnels to the center of the earth. With his teenage nephew in tow, he heads to Iceland, where they eventually find themselves retracing the path of the famous Jules Verne novel, which was apparently not a work of fiction after all.

Entertainment Value: A
I was worried about what this might turn out to be, mostly because the original movie is such a classic. But in the end, it became a tremendous homage to the original and the book precisely because it essentially became a remake without having to suffer the guilt of being a remake. The action is excellent. The effects are cool. The banter is fun. And I can wholeheartedly recommend this movie for what it is: a message-free science-fiction romp. There isn’t even the slightest hint of what could have been easily and wrongly included: global warming. Bravo, movie-makers with restraint. Bravo.

Superficial Content: B+
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sex/Nudity A, Violence B, Language A, Illegality A
There are certainly some intense action sequences here (again, just like the original), involving people apparently being killed, volcanic activity, dinosaurs attacking people, and what the MPAA likes to call “peril.” We decided not to let Spencer watch it, but I’m sure he would love it. Call it PG-6 for keeping the kiddies from being too scared. Not only is this a fun movie, it’s a fun, CLEAN movie! What more could you want?

Significant Content: NG (No grade)
There is no significant content here. It’s a cartoon. It’s an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel. Seriously. No messages. Think I’m exaggerating? Then email me after you’ve seen it with what you think the messages are.

Artistic/Thought Value: NG (No grade)
Not because it’s not artistic, but because there’s nothing of thought worth mentioning here. This isn’t art. It’s entertainment. Giving it an art grade would be misleading and inappropriate. Didn’t you hear me when I said this was all about fun?

Discussion Questions:
~Do you think that young people these days have a sense of adventure? Are their heroes adventure-seekers? What role did adventure heroes play in American culture in the past? Is this position inhabited by anyone today? Compare the persona of an X-Games contestant with the Lone Ranger and Indiana Jones.
~Do men uniquely need/seek adventure? Has our culture moved away from this because we are more concerned about safety, or has our over-emphasis on safety been the result of a move away from adventure stories?
~Does this movie make you want to read science-fiction works like those by Verne or Burroughs? Do you think making movies like this encourages other kids to go read the books?
~What’s the coolest place you can think of exploring/adventuring?
Overall Grade: A
Pure and total fun. I really enjoyed it. Finally I get to give a total thumbs-up to a Walden Media movie. My only regret here was that I didn’t get to see it in 3-D. Oh, well. One can’t have everything all the time.

No comments: