Journey to the Center of the Earth

Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) movie poster

(2008) dir. Eric Brevig
viewed: 07/12/08 at Century San Francisco Centre, SF, CA

A significant contrast for me this week or two is going to see the Hollywood of today’s current output in contrast to the films shown at the Silent Film Festival going on this weekend at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.  For me, taking my son to see this film, shot and marketed as  Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D, I thought that the contrast to going to the showing tomorrow (today) of Lotte Reiniger’s The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) which I am taking him and his friend to tomorrow, would be an interesting thing, for me, for them.

It was kinda fun.

Felix, my son, got a headache from the glasses/experience and didn’t enjoy it one iota (so he told me, though I think he liked it a bit).  My daughter, 4 year-old Clara, sat on my lap, trying to grab raindrops, flying incandescent birds, mist, steam, all sorts of stuff.  For me, within the context of this film and in general, 3-D is much more “thrill ride”-like, than important to a cohesive narrative experience.  I mean, the yo-yo has little narrative importance, but it gets thrust in our faces because it’s a convenient protusion rather than a convenient plot point.

Basically though, I enjoyed the film in the moment.  It’s stupid, it’s got Brendan Fraser (who has made his career in these types of films) and it’s full of entertaining if yet totally obviously unbelievable digital animation in giant carnivorous plants, flying phirraha fish, giant sea monsters, dinosaurs, bad science….. but it’s not worth complaining on those fronts.  It’s simply a thrill ride.  How is this film as a thrill ride?

It’s satisfactory on that experience.  As a film on its own, it’s much less satisfying.  For today, it’s better and more fun than it will be in years and technological experiences yet to come.

The only sad point is that Jules Verne deserves much better, in today’s times, even when contextualizing him in Victorian aesthetics and scientific knowledge.  Verne was very inventive, forward thinking, and a good story-teller.  This film tries to acknowledge that, but more on the side of saying that his cockamamie sci-fi of 100 years ago was actual knowledge, actual reality.

Okay.  Not so cool.

But it was a decent little trip downtown.

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