Journey To The Center Of The Earth ("Journey" from now on please, thank you) is an okay film which could have been awesome with a capital A had it released in 3D in Hyderabad. Getting the short end of film release schedules has now been topped with getting 3D films released in plain old 2D.
The 3D perspective was fairly gimmicky in Beowulf, and while the format didn't add to the overall film, it remained a fun way to experience the film. With Journey, however, ex-Xena director Eric Brevig has made a film so old fashioned in its simplicity as a jolly good yarn, that its complete reliance on 3D as a storytelling device is something that may have made the film seem completely charming.
In 2D, however, the film is merely an okay adventure flick with the right amounts of kiddie moments and tense action sequences to keep everyone happy. Keeping the plot simple and clean also helps a veteran special effects supervisor like Brevig to break free of plot developments and concentrate on the spectacle. Which, I am happy to report, is pretty slick.
Trevor Anderson (Fraser) is a geologist who works in the laboratory of his brother Max, who disappeared sometime back in Iceland under mysterious circumstances. Max believed the Jules Verne story about an actual world in the center of the Earth, which was led to through volcanos. When he notices seismic activity similar to one when Max disappeared, he takes his nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) with him to investigate.
Together with their guide Hannah (Anita Briem), they set off to investigate and accidentally reach the literal centre of the Earth. The adventure starts in full earnest as they encounter pre-historic creatures, wild terrain, fast rising temperatures and all sorts of cool stuff that looks great on screen.
It's fun, too, the leads are confident and the tale is simple enough for them to do their own thing without worrying too much about character. The film coasts along just fine as a relentless ride of one trap to another, and while there is no real tension, there is enough anticipation up on the screen.
Despite the fun, though, the fact that the 3D is missing makes you notice the stuff that is wrong. You wonder about the flat characterization and the Dues Ex Machina pervading each problem they encounter. This is a kids' film, and it shows in the shallow presentation.
It is an okay time in the cinemas, but unless you have children (actual or the kind that won't grow up), there really isn't any need to give this a go. Go with someone who is, or can be, less than 12, and you'll have a squealer of a time.