Journey to the Center of the Earth

Let's be clear about one thing: Journey to the Center of the Earth is more a demo reel than a narrative feature. It's a decent if overly familiar and yawningly obvious compendium of look-at-me moments intended to show off the latest and greatest in stereo 3-D filmmaking, in which the same thing is shot twice, more or less merged into a blurry single image, and rendered almost-kinda-sorta-not-really lifelike through the polarized shades of the RealD glasses you get to wear (and keep!). Brendan Fraser, who has played against green screens for so long he's forgotten how to relate to people, is Trevor Anderson, a disheveled science professor nursing an invisible ache for a brother who died looking for the center of the Earth. Fraser marches from one scene to the next till, whoops, that's a mighty deep hole. Directed by Eric Brevig, the movie takes it time arriving at the Earth's core and then rushes to escape from it, almost in embarrassment. There's good reason not to linger downtown: All the filmmakers summon from their collective imagination is a dingier version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory; episodes of Land of the Lost were more inspired. The mine-train ride, nicked almost rail for rail from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, provides a bit of a midmovie kick, but Journey pretty much climaxes before it even penetrates.


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