Fraser Sinks to new Depths
The 2008 movie "Journey to the Center of the Earth" makes two mistakes, one is casting Brendan Fraser in the lead role as he had already done the adventure thing with "The Mummy" movies and for me is too associated with his character in that. The other is to call itself "Journey to the Center of the Earth" because whilst it has clever connections to Jules Verne's classic story it is not his "Journey to the Center of the Earth". If only they had cast someone else and changed its name it would have been a fun adventure movie with a clever idea. "Journey to the Center of the Earth" still wouldn't have been perfect, too far fetched and treating the audience like imbeciles is never good, but at least it would have turned out better than it is.
When his nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson - Firehouse Dog) comes to stay, Professor Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser - The Last Time) also receives a box of his brother Max's belongings including the research he was doing before he went missing 10 years earlier. It is the notes scribbled in Max's copy of Jules Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth" which lead to both Sean and Trevor heading to Iceland and along with mountain guide Hannah (Anita Briem) following the path he left. But when they become trapped in a mountain cave and search for another way out they find a whole other world at the center of the earth.
Now to be honest I like the idea behind "Journey to the Center of the Earth", I like the way it connects to Jules Verne's classic story by having a scientist and his nephew discovering notes in his brother's "Journey to the Center of the Earth" novel to suggest that there is a paradise at the centre of the earth. And to be honest I like the way the story plays out from discovering the notes, to exploring an Icelandic volcano and basically following the path set out in Verne's story, using it as their guide. And there is also the deeper emotional connection as we have the fact it is an Uncle and Nephew going on this adventure, following the path left by the Nephew's father.
But "Journey to the Center of the Earth" rather than being a classy adventure movie where discoveries are meant to leave you in a state of awe is instead a bog standard modern adventure movie. What that means is that we have a mix of danger and excitement from rock falls through to explosions which to be honest are not that bad. Plus of course with this being a trip down to a secret paradise we also have the monsters which thanks to the improvement in technology are definitely an improvement on those old techniques used in previous versions of Jules Verne's tale.
But what is bad is certain far fetched elements, the discovery of a mine leads to an Indiana Jones style mine cart rollercoaster ride element and there is a huge drop scene with a water slide element. It's far too corny and whilst the movie is definitely meant to be light hearted it goes too far and becomes cheesy. The worst of this is whilst this is going on we have the characters basically spoon feeding us as to what could happen as if we are complete imbeciles without any brains.
And to be honest whilst Brendan Fraser proved himself as an adventure hero in "The Mummy" movies he is too associated with those movies to become another adventurer in this, it's too similar. Yes Fraser's character Trevor maybe a scientist and lecturer but here we have him basically doing the hero thing who delivers a few wise cracks and battles monsters. The rest of the cast which to be honest is by nature minimal are good and to be honest Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem and Brendan Fraser do work well together it's just for me a wrong piece of casting.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "Journey to the Center of the Earth" is entertaining and in fact is an imaginative idea. But it not only makes the mistake of using the name of Verne's classic and therefore making you think it is something it isn't but in casting Brendan Fraser it becomes too comparable to "The Mummy" movies. But the worst thing is that whilst being light hearted and fun it goes too far and often becomes corny which turns into being painful when it then treats the audience like they are idiots.