Remember those flimsy cardboard glasses with the blue and red cellophane that were supposed to help us watch movies “come alive” in 3-D? They never worked for me. Maybe it was my prescription glasses, and the fact that the paper lenses never fit quite right? My first experience with 3D glasses before this century were those given away for free via the newspaper or grocery store to watch Jaws on TV in the late 70s. I remember my older brother and I sitting expectantly in front of our television set and waiting for the shark to lunge out at us. I didn’t get it. Were those red and blue lines around Jaws supposed to disappear? Eh. Not impressed.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait too long for improved glasses and technology. Enter Disneyland, Michael Jackson and Captain EO in 1983 and 3D started making more sense. I was duly impressed, no purple haze and things did fly off the screen. We couldn’t keep the plastic glasses, though. But improvements came slower after the 80s, and it was only last year that I watched something that impressed me more, and hey! it was from Disney again! I have to admit, some of my pleasure with the movie was the fact that I didn’t have to travel to some themepark to watch it. Oh, and the glasses to watch “Meet the Robinsons” were cooler. Like shades. Still an awkward fit over my glasses, but at least we got to keep them.
I added to my collection of 3D glasses this week, again courtesy of Disney. The glasses were similar to those from “Meet the Robinsons” but maybe a little cooler, a little better constructed. I just wish I could say the same about the movie, “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D.”
Brendan Fraser of “The Mummy” fame plays Trevor Anderson, a scientist professor whose theories on ..okay, I don’t remember. I could cheat and look it up on IMDB, maybe do some research, but really, you just want to know if this movie is good, right? It’s good. It’s enjoyable. But you have to watch it in 3D. Otherwise, there’s really no point. The special effects are what make this movie interesting.
Trevor finds himself playing substitute dad for the weekend to his nephew, Sean, played by teen star Josh Hutcherson, who is no stranger to adventure movies geared towards kids having starred in Bridge to Terabithia and Zathura, to name a few. Sean’s dad, and Trevor’s brother, Max, disappeared more than 10 years ago on an expedition and no one ever knew why. They just knew Max was a “Verne-ian” a believer of the incredible tale of Jules Verne’s novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth. Trevor and Sean discover notes in Max’s old copy of the book that allow them to trace Max’s steps to Iceland. Together, with pretty mountain guide, Hannah, played by slight, but capable Anita Briem, they embark on a fantastic adventure that takes them deep beneath the Earth’s surface.
Josh Hutcherson gives a dependable performance of a sullen, reluctant teenager who secretly wishes to know more about his father. As this is his directorial debut, Eric Brevig, may be forgiven for letting Brendan Fraser channel more of the goofy George of the Jungle character than the more in control Rick O’Connell of the Mummy. I just remember thinking, “Did he forget how to use his ‘inside’ voice?” towards the end of the film. Granted, they were careening through the center of the Earth through most of the movie, but still. Maybe kids who like yelling at the top of their lungs can relate. Me, I was always the quiet kid with her nose in a book.
Brought to you by the geniuses behind the digital effects of such movies as The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and The Day After Tomorrow, Journey to the Center of the Earth is unique and groundbreaking as a movie that overwhelms yet still somehow disappoints. It is an epic adventure. For kids. Because they can suspend their disbelief better than adults and just be awed by the spectacular effects and enjoy the wild ride. As the first live-action feature film to be shot and released entirely in 3D, Journey to the Center of the Earth is an ambitious effort that dazzles and entertains just enough to keep an adult interested, and maybe just enough to keep a child enthralled. If nothing else, this may encourage kids to read the novel. If nothing else, this movie may get you excited for the future of 3D live-action feature films. If nothing else, you get a cool pair of 3D shades.