Journey to the Center of the Earth

Encino Man Back to Prehistoric Times

Brendan Fraser discovers the center of the earth, while audiences discover the exit of the door.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Anita Briem

By Robert Patrick

Writing a review about Journey to the Center of the Earth is giving me a constant migraine. The movie, which was made for 3D glasses, made me realize that all of the special effects in the world couldn’t help Brendan Fraser’s acting abilities look one dimensional, let alone three.

The movie, directed by Eric Brevig, is loosely based on Jules Vernes’ novel of the same name. At the beginning of the film we are introduced to a struggling scientist simply named Trevor (Brendan Fraser). Already during the first five minutes we are subjected to massive plot holes. Trevor is the name of a scientist? Wait, Brendan Fraser plays a scientist named Trevor? Regardless, the uniformly daffy Fraser falls asleep after a questionably hard day at work, wakes to the sound of his nephew Sean at his doorstep, and realizes that he had promised to take care of the boy a month ago. Fraser, now in a moment of panic, begins to clean his house by throwing dirty bowls of cereal in his fireplace. After this tactic of house cleaning, we realize there is a reason he is struggling at his profession – he is illogical. However this may be, Fraser eventually takes Sean under his wing. Before too long, we understand that Sean doesn’t like Fraser because there is no “Mountain Dew in the fridge,” which isn’t Fraser’s fault so much as Sean’s for expecting him to have that particularly outdated drink in his home. Soon, we find out that Fraser has found a copy of Jules Vernes’ Journey to the Center of the Earth among his deceased brothers’ possessions. His brother, completely unbeknownst to him, had made notations in the book, detailing that the novel was in fact a true account of life at the core of the planet. Fraser, being the great guardian he is, decides to book a trip to Iceland with his nephew, hire a random mountain guide, and get trapped in a cave.

After debating what action should be taken next, the unlikely trio step on thin rock, do a pitfall into the center of the earth, and get up in time for Fraser to mutter, “Ladies and gentleman, I give you the center of the earth.” This line is bad. This action isn’t feasible. And how the hell does Fraser know where he is at? From here on out, director Brevig enacts on the audience’s gullibility. The running time of the movie is around 88 minutes, which is good considering that only three 5 minute action sequences transpire, giving me effectively 73 minutes to catch my breath. If your kids are interested in this film, tell them that WALL*E is coming out, buy them a PSP, and tell them that Brendan Fraser may have the emotions of a robot, but that he certainly isn’t made by Pixar. You’ll thank me.

Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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