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Journey to the Center of the Earth

Remove a star from the rating if you take this Journey without wearing 3-D glasses. That’s where the real fun comes in. Otherwise you have a family-friendly retelling of Jules Verne’s 1864 novel (best remembered is the 1959 movie with an overqualified James Mason, a shirtless Pat Boone and a gorgeous Arlene Dahl) in a romp that is lazily content to connect the dots instead of breaking new ground. Brendan Fraser is Indiana Jones stalwart and goofily charming as Trevor Anderson, a science prof who retraces the steps of his brother, who died searching for the center of the earth. With his 13-year-old nephew (Josh Hutcherson) in tow, along with a Icelandic babe (Anita Briem) in the role of guide, Trevor finds his way by carrying a copy of the book Verne wrote 144 years ago (score one for literary merit). In 2-D, it’s all achingly familiar. In 3-D, the story comes alive, despite the tacky sets and gimmicks. Put on those glasses and you get toothpaste spat in your face, a T-Rex breathing up your nostrils, and what may be the longest fall in movie history. I don’t know if 3-D could improve all movies (nothing could make The Love Guru funny) but it sure works here.

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