Sebastian Raymond
Owen Gleiberman
July 18, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D

Current Status
In Season
93 minutes
Wide Release Date
Brendan Fraser, Anita Briem, Josh Hutcherson
New Line Cinema
Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin, Michael D. Weiss
Kids and Family, Sci-fi and Fantasy

We gave it a B-

When I was a kid, the 1959 Journey to the Center of the Earth, with James Mason, Pat Boone, and a lot of slithery cool dinosaurs, was one of my favorite movies to catch on Saturday-afternoon TV. It had a certain odd gravitas, with its crew of explorers getting increasingly desperate in their attempt to survive. (The sight of an actor as refined as Mason running around in rags was a shock.) The new Journey to the Center of the Earth, whether or not you see it in 3-D, has about as much gravitas as a helium balloon. Brendan Fraser, as a floppy-haired academic looking for holes in the planet, takes his 13-year-old nephew and a pretty Scandinavian guide along with him, and the three never stop moving — rocketing around on diamond-mine carts; plunging through a muscovite floor and falling down, down, down; scurrying away from a T. rex (him again!) and other familiar terrors. Last year’s Beowulf employed 3-D with a certain fairy-tale savvy, but Journey is just the new version of a 1950s comin’-at-ya roller coaster, with a tape measure, trilobite antennae, and giant snapping piranha thrust at the audience. Yet wandering around the earth’s stalactite-dripped core exerts a primal appeal even in a dumb kiddie joyride like this one. In the best scene, Fraser’s nephew clings to floating magnetic rocks above the deepest abyss you’ve ever seen, a situation that could give even jaded videogame kids vertigo. B-

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