Thomas Clarke’s review published on Letterboxd :
'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' is a 2008 re-imagining of the original classic novel and subsequent adaptations, written by Author Jules Verne. Primarily targeted at younger audiences and family groups, this film should also be known for the use of old style 3D that it has incorporated into its content. Being a movie that is targeted at young people, this movie has adapted the original narrative in such a way that makes it easier to follow than the original story. These changes also make the film more entertaining and gives the production team freedom to create scenes that were not present in the original. The 93 minute duration passes with relative ease and never does it feel dull. The update to the narrative means that the production team have made the film more dynamic than those who have read/ watched the original may remember of the first. Being a re-imagine take on the property, instead of a reboot allows this film to be fresh in an environment that is bogged down at present with the latter.
Produced by Walden Media, a production house that has created ample adaptations of written text, and one that has a strong roster of movies that are aimed at younger audiences. 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' follows Bostonian Volcanologist/ college tutor Trevor Anderson, who is struggling to continue his brother Max's work after his disappearance 10 years prior to the film. Plagued by nightmares involving his brother's demise, shown as a prequel scene to start this movie off, and struggling with keeping the research going, Trevor is in need of change. This change comes in the form of his young nephew, 13 year old Sean who is sent to stay for 10 days as his parents move into a new home. Bringing with him a bunch of his fathers belongings, these turn out to shed light on his fathers disappearance. To investigate further into these findings, the pair decide to head to Iceland and find more information that can explain the phenomenon that seems to be occurring.
Whilst there the pair, and mountain guide Hannah, are interrupted in their task by a freak lightning storm. Fleeing from this storm the characters take refuge in a small cave. However when the cave succ*mbs to the storm, they find themselves trapped with no option but to venture further in and find an exit out. Doing this the characters learn that they might have found the entrance to the fabled passage into the land that is found in the centre of the earth. With this discovery in hand, the adventurers discover that they must leave the place before the surrounding volcanic rock rises the temperature too high, causing their death through dehydration. The film therefore follows the adventurers journey through this strange and peculiar land so that they might find the exit. Along the way they encounter many different creatures, including dinosaurs and other extinct animals, each creating occurrences for the party to overcome.
This film holds a good premise and as plots go, this one should manage to keep most audiences entertained throughout. Being aimed at younger viewers, this film never bogs itself down with explaining what occurs with scientific fact, things happen simply because they do, and as such the film becomes more easier to watch. It is a nice change to those films that hold complicated plot lines, and as such proves that simple narratives can be just as entertaining as those.
The special and visual effects that are used within this movie do feel dated when compared to the effects that are utilised in movies today. However these effects are still able to add to the overall film, and never takes away from what the film is trying to achieve. As this film is one that never takes itself too seriously, this means in some instances aspects appear convenient, but these are usually pushed aside for the purpose of moving the narrative on. Although some will find this convenience annoying, most will allow it to be pushed aside without feeling as it makes the movie what it is. Brendan Fraser once again portrays a character that is easy to watch on screen. Equally leading in the role, but also holding the right balance of comedic value and emotion to the cause, his role fits the film entirely. Josh Hutcherson plays Sean, showcasing the fact that the role was enjoyable to play. He brings across a feeling of fun to audience members. As child characters go, the choice to have him like this also fits in with the context of the film perfectly. Anita Briem, as mountain guide Hannah, finishes the main cast in way that at first, means her character to be unreadable but as the movie develops so does her characters depth. She is the character that has the biggest story arc and for the majority of the film she is the one who craves the utmost attention.
'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' should not be seen as a remake, too much has been altered to the original source, so to be noted as one would take a lot away from the decisions that the film-making team have made in the production of this film. These changes make the film feel fresh and enjoyable throughout. The two main characters' chemistry fills the movie correctly and works well in moving on the narrative properly. Kids and families should see this movie as there is enough content to keep the majority happy. However, the use of the old style 3D in this film does make certain scenes appear too gimmicky for their own good. The way that it is used, can and does become annoying. This is a further example of the development of this medium and how it has progressed for the best.