Journey to the Center of the Earth (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I have to admit, it’s taken me about a decade to truly understand what it is about Brendan Fraser that people like so much. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike the guy, it just seems that he’s always been a more minor star in Hollywood than some others out there. Granted, his big break came in 1992 winning the lead in the now pseudo-classic “School Ties”, a movie that also starred the likes of Chris O’Donnell, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (gee, I wonder what ever happened to those guys)? Fraser really came into his own in 1997’s “George of the Jungle” and his status as a superstar was cemented in 1999 with the release of “The Mummy.” Ironically enough, Fraser took the lead in two movies in the summer of 2008, one “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and the other was the third installment in “The Mummy” series of movies (it had been 7 years since the last). While the higher profile role was certainly Fraser reclaiming the role of Rick O’Connell, it’s his role as Professor Trevor Anderson in “Journey to the Center of the Earth” that we’ll be focusing on.

Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) has lost his brother, Max (Jean Michel Pare) a decade ago. Max, like Trevor, was a professor obsessed with finding something more meaningful that what lie on the surface of the earth. Trevor’s nephew, Sean (Josh Hutcherson), has come to stay with him for a couple of weeks and no sooner does he arrive than the duo have packed up and head to Iceland of all places. Once there, they meet the lovely Hannah sgeirsson (Anita Briem), who leads them on a journey for a rather small fee. Naturally everything that can go wrong does and it’s not much later that the trio fall, literally, into the center of the earth. They want to escape, of course, but with all sorts of man-eating plants, fish with teeth the size of elephant tusks and being, well, in the center of the earth all make that rather hard to do. Will they end up fodder for plants or will they manage to escape and live to tell the tale?

I have to admit that going into “Journey to the Center of the Earth” was that “other” Brendan Fraser movie from this last summer. As it turns out, it really wasn’t as bad as I though it was. I doubt it’ll win any awards come Oscar time, but it had some pretty good messages and Fraser actually gives a half-decent performance. The movie (and Blu-ray for that matter) are presented in 3-D, something that really isn’t much of a trend anymore but audiences seemed to like it as the film more than doubled its budget of $45 million dollars. I also liked the twist that they actually used the Jules Verne book “Journey to the Center of the Earth” as somewhat of a blueprint for the film itself. Nevertheless, this one might even be good for the children as there are a few choice scenes, but nothing that will scar them for life. As for me, I wasn’t disappointed and as many movies as I see that’s a good thing.

Video: How does it look?

“Journey to the Center of the Earth” is the first Blu-ray that I’ve received with two pairs of 3-D glasses. I’m not really sure what you’d do if you had an audience of four, but that’s a story for another time. Thankfully, you can also watch the film in the more traditional 2-D version and that’s the one I chose (though I did go back and watch selected scenes in 3-D). The 1.85:1 HD transfer looks pretty good, though I have to keep telling myself that the movie was shot and made for 3-D so the crystal clear image that is so common with other movies might be a bit off here. There were a few instances in which the transfer was a bit off and certain scenes were literally made for 3-D but by and large, I was pretty impressed with how this looked on screen. New Line has done a good job here as they do with most of their titles and it’s another top notch effort for a film with a rather “unique” transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

“Journey to the Center of the Earth” took a cue from Warner’s “Speed Racer” as no HD sound mix has been provided. Instead all we get is a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that does have its moments, thought they’re few and far between. I was flustered in my review of “Speed Racer” why Warner would do such a thing and evidently it came down to a financial decision. Well, this movie made over $100 million at the box office and doesn’t merit a TrueHD track? Ok, I give up in terms of trying to figure this sort of stuff out. But I digressthe audio isn’t too terribly bad here; dialogue is rich and robust with the ambient surround effects chiming in at just the right time. There are a few really good examples of surround sound, namely at the third act, but they really didn’t stand out for me. I’m sorry to say that viewers will be disappointed when it comes to this mix and we’ll have to settle for a Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

Supplements: What are the extras?

There aren’t a ton of supplements here, but enough for fans of the movie to warrant a purchase. First of all, we do have both a 2-D and a 3-D version of the film on the disc and a fairly interesting commentary track with actor Brendan Fraser and director Eric Brevig. The two talk of the shoot, the plethora of CGI effects in the movie and, you know what, it really wasn’t that bad of a track. There’s a rather informative featurette entitled “A world within our world” which gives a few theories on what might lay beneath the surface of the earth (hint: it’s hot and liquid), but is fairly entertaining as well. We get a closer look at star Josh Hutchinson and learn how to “Make a Dinosaur Drool” as well. Oddly enough, no trailer is found on the Blu-ray disc. A bonus “digital copy” of the movie and two pairs of 3-D glasses are also included.

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