What happened to you, Brendan Fraser? You used to be hot shit, if not an A-list celeb than a solid B-list guy. Now you’re doing so-so movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth and hoping someone decides to resurrect The Mummy series.
To be fair, Brendan Fraser is one of the good things about Journey. I’ve always liked him, and he’s just as charming and funny here as he is in any of his films. He just deserves much better than a movie that puts so much effort into 3D gimmicks that detract from the story. I feel the same for his co-stars (including a young Josh Hutcherson). Everyone gives a great performance, they’re just let down by the overall quality of the film.
The story itself is fair. The plot is lifted from the Jules Verne book of the same name, updated a bit to bring it into the 21st Century. It’s definitely an action movie for kids, but one of the better ones I’ve seen. That said, aside from Fraser, Hutcherson, and a CGI T-Rex I don’t actually remember much about the movie. Journey is just one of those unremarkable and unoffensive adventure films that parents don’t mind putting in for the kids, because the background noise it generates is tolerable.
We watched this a few weeks ago now, and I can barely remember what happened. The film tries to be a fresh take on the Jules Verne novel, but is let down by a weak leading man and below average special effects. The film also relies far too much on 3D technology, so much that it feels very gimmicky at stages.
Brendan Fraser plays Trevor Anderson. Trevor is a scientist who has offered to look after Sean (Josh Hutcherson), his young nephew, while his mother organises a move to Canada for the two of them. She also drops off a box owned by Trevor’s deceased brother. Inside the box, Trevor and Sean find clues to the location of the centre of the earth and that Jules Verne’s novel may have been more than just fiction. Trevor and Sean head to Iceland to uncover the truth and hire a local (Anita Briem) to help them venture through the caves during their search. The trio eventually find themselves in an underground land full of excitement and large CGI dinosaurs. They will need to work together if they are ever going to return from the center of the earth.
This film is relevant for two reasons. It was the beginning of the end for Brendan Fraser, and it showed, yet again, what a talent Hutcherson is. Fraser was on his way out after this film, eventually replaced for the sequel by franchise rescuer Dwayne Johnson. He was hot stuff for a few years after headlining the above average Mummy movies. He has not had a hit in some time, and I believe he is also having money troubles these days. Films like this, Inkheart and the third Mummy film were all bombs that it seems his career was not able to recover from. Josh Hutcherson, on the other hand, is a star on the rise. He was great as the bullied child with an awesome imagination in the underrated Bridge to Terebithia and is now a star thanks to his role as Peeta in The Hunger Games series.
Outside of Hutcherson, this is a very boring film. The CG effects look second rate and there is not much chemistry among the cast.
I did not expect much from Journey to the Center of the Earth, and it delivered.