Journey to the Center of the Earth: Same Planet. Different World.

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There are many film versions of this classic Jules Verne tale out there, but this updated, fast-paced version from 2008 is a rollercoaster ride that grips you from almost the very beginning and does not let got for the next 90+ minutes. This version takes up pretty close to the basic story that Verne put together, and there are often references made to Verne and they even carry paperback version of the book with them.

Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) is a nerdy geology professor that has been losing students, but stays with the same college in order to keep his late brother’s research going. His lab is about to be shut down due to budget cuts. Add the fact that the pompous head of his department, Professor Alan Kitzens (Seth Meyers) wants convert the lab to storage space, things are looking pretty bleak for the Anderson brother’s project right now. Trevor also has a family obligation over the next few days. His nephew, Sean (Josh Hutcherson) is coming to visit while his mother is closing a deal on their new home in Ottowa. When Elizabeth (Jane Wheeler) and Sean get to Trevor’s flat, they find out that Trevor forgot all about the visit.

After Elizabeth leaves, Trevor gets a call from his assistant, Leonard (Giancarlo Caltabiano), at the lab, who tells him that there has been a sudden change in the readings that he has been monitoring since his brother’s disappearance. They have focused on three extinct volcano tubes, but when a fourth one shows up in Iceland, it puts a new spin on Trevor and Max’s (Jean Michel Paré), Sean’s late father’s research, and Trevor and Sean head to Iceland to investigate this new reading. They look for the Sigurbjörn Ásgeirsson Institute for Vulcanology, and end up at the end of a dark road at what looks to be a fishing shack or hunting lodge in the middle of the night. It turns out that the lodge is what they are looking for, but the man they are looking for, Professor Sigurbjörn Ásgeirsson has passed. Good luck holds out, as the person who informed them of this is Sigurbjörn Ásgeirsson’s daughter, Hannah (Anita Briem). Hannah is also a mountain guide, and a very pretty one. Hannah also informs them that Max, like her father, was part of a society called Vernians. Vernians are people who look for the truth behind Jules Verne’s writings. There are many the same notations in Max’s dog-eared copy of A Journey to the Center of the Earth that match Sigurbjörn Ásgeirsson’s.

Hannah offers to take them up the slopes of the volcano to retrieve the censor, for a fee, a rather steep one, of IDK 5000 per hour, which is about $500 US. A freak storm kicks in, and the lightning is attracted to the censor. Hannah quickly guides them to a cave for shelter. Trevor is still holding the censor when it gets zapped, and he dives into the cave. Lightning hits the cave mouth, and causes huge boulders to topple, and they are trapped. The only way to get out is the go deeper. That’s when the fun really begins, as in, fragile, shattering rock floors, old mine car rollercoaster rides, underground hurricanes, chased by giant barracudas and T-rexes kind of fun. This movie just never lets go. It was a pretty good, modern day adaptation, and it looks amazing on Blu-Ray.

It was one of the first movies to go 3-D HD on a national scale outside of IMAX, and not being a fan of the old 1890s style 3-D glasses that are still being packaged in DVD cases these days, I watched it in 2-D. The 3-D affects would have been great to see with the right kind of glasses, but it looked great watching it the old-fashioned way. There have been many great versions of this movie, and many more very bad versions. This one is better than average, so it will keep you solidly entertained.

I give this film a Musing review of ★★★★☆☆ 

Available on Blu-Ray from Amazon
Available on DVD from Amazon