The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Journey To The Center/Earth

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Jacqueline MonahanFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Jacqueline MonahanFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Jacqueline MonahanFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Jacqueline MonahanFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Jacqueline Monahan Jacqueline MonahanThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">

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Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
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Who doesn’t love a good story about shifting plate tectonics and isolated seismic activity? Good point, that would be most people – which is why all of that scientific double-talk is squeezed into a 92 minute, 3-D film, loosely based on Jules Verne’s 1864 novel of the same name. The special effects thrill ride makes the science go down (to paraphrase Mary Poppins).

Professor/Geologist Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) is haunted by the disappearance of his brother ten years earlier and determined to carry on his life’s work, that of finding the center of the earth. His sarcastic nephew, Sean, (Josh Hutcherson) arrives for a visit, accidentally helping Trevor discover that worldwide volcanic activity is exactly the same as the day his father (and Trevor’s brother) disappeared. So it’s off to Iceland with the two of them where they meet mountain guide Hannah, (Anita Briem) who declares that both her father and Trevor’s brother were “Vernians,” scientists who believes Verne's works weren't science fiction, but fact.

From this point on, it will help to check anything you know about physics at the door. Fasten your seatbelt for a simulated, multi-dimensional roller coaster ride through mountains, mines, and orange-tinged interior landscapes (all that magma, you know). In discovering inner-space, the trio stumbles upon several types of phosphorescent lighting, including flocks of blue birds, an underground ocean stuffed with carnivorous creatures, giant Venus fly-traps – although in this region they’ve got nothing to do with either Venus or flies. A human head could easily fit into its snapping pod.

T-rex pays a visit; apparently not all of them got swallowed up in tar pits. Meanwhile, the temperature is rising, like it tends to do at earth’s core. This is the birthplace of volcanoes after all, and the three characters we spend 90% of the film with had better devise a way to return to the surface of the planet with their fantastic findings.

How they accomplish this will make you think the writers are out of their skulls (when really only one hapless dinosaur is – and they use his as a makeshift boat).

Will Trevor get his scientific proof? Will Sean get some respect for his uncle? Will Hannah get a new American man and ultimately a green card…just kidding. There’s a bit of a tease about another lost civilization to explore. The guys will be back; let’s see if they trade in the girl for a newer model.

Brenden Fraser hoists himself through one dangerous predicament after another with only his wide eyes to show fear. Anita Briem adds a love interest and Bjork-like accent to the proceedings. Josh Hutcherson as obnoxious nephew-turned-adventurer makes the transition from bored teen to Trevor’s biggest fan. It just took a few volcanoes, a T-rex and a sea full of flesh eating fish to do it. Seems being at death’s door does wonders for familial devotion.

Special effects artist-turned-director Eric Brevig (Pearl Harbor, Hook) keeps the action coming, almost too quickly. There’s no time for the trio to regroup or strategize about their predicament. It’s all reaction with no dead ends or else our brave trio will wind up super-heated, virtually boiled alive - yet the audience panics more than the characters do.

3-D effects are sporadic, inspiring gasps of excellence at times and seeming to disappear at others. Trilobite antennae, a yoyo, and discarded toothpaste will all find their way into your eyes. A tiny bird will make you want to capture it and take it home with you. Beginning and ending credits had audience members reaching for the lines of letters. Then whole passages of time go by without remembering that 3-D is part of the deal.

The script, credited to writers Michael Weiss, (Octopus, Crocodile) Jennifer Flackett, and Mark Levin, (Nim’s Island) is unremarkable and flat. Words take a definite backseat to action sequences and digital creations. "I just remembered something," Trevor says, as he hangs by his fingertips onto the edge of a cliff. "I hate field work." A clever observation, but hardly something to bother to utter so close to permanent annihilation. Even if you lived through this event, a more pressing objective would be finding a change of underwear.

This latest version of the Jules Verne classic, Journey to the Center of the Earth (a 1959 film starred James Mason and Pat Boone) will delight younger audiences with its amusement park atmosphere, threadbare plot and fanciful creatures. It’s a journey worth taking if you are willing to suspend all brainwave activity. For some, that will be its biggest selling point.

For others, the journey continues…

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