After noted explorer Edward Dennison vanishes, a search party, headed by anthropologist Jonathan Brock, embarks on a mission to trace Dennison's last known tracks through a secret passage in Alaska--a gateway to the very c... more »enter of the Earth. What the team discovers is an underworld tribe of primitive warriors and prehistoric dangers unknown to civilization. Based on the well-known book by Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth stars Rick Schroder, Peter Fonda, and Victoria Pratt and includes collectible packaging and never-before-seen bonus features.« less
A Remake of the 1999 Mini-Series, Rather Than the Jules Vern
Brian Taves | Washington, DC United States | 05/16/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"During the first few years of the 21st century, new versions of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH continued to be announced but remained unproduced. Finally, in 2007, a new big budget version was made, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 3-D, and as so often happens, simultaneously a lower budget rendition of the same story was made to cash in on the former's anticipated popularity. In this case, the filmmakers did not return to the novel, but as with the 2005 version of MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, chose to instead remake an earlier adaptation.
Robert Halmi, Sr. dusted off the script of his 1999 version of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, compressing it back to a 90 minute telefilm for RHI entertainment that appeared on the ION network on January 27, 2008. William Bray adapted the 1999 Tom Baum teleplay, this time helmed by T.J. Scott (probably best remembered for some of the most imaginatively directed episodes in the HERCULES and XENA series). The principal characterizations and motives remained the same, only compressed and more tightly paced.
The setting remains around the 1870s but is transplanted to San Francisco and Alaska (still known as "Seward's Folly" and with vestiges of Russian influence). These locales and a center of the Earth that resembles it were all a result of the Vancouver location shooting determining production design. However, the switch to an American background also gives the adaptation more of a natural, domestic, and less of an exotic feel-distinct from previous versions, which is a strength, but also familiar types of scenery, such as a western-style Alaskan town and costume. While director Scott makes the most of the backgrounds, the fact that the center of the earth looks almost exactly like the world above makes the narrative ultimately less convincing. Far more memorable were the unusual visuals achieved by the 1999 version.
From the first scene it is clear that this is little more than a retelling of the earlier film, with the basic characters and situation remained as before. Neither Rick Schroeder or Steven Grayhm, respectively, are as appropriate for their roles as were Treat Williams and Jeremy London in 1999. By contrast, the female lead this time is incarnated this time much more vigorously and convincingly by Victoria Pratt. She has a decade of female action roles to her credit and is also the wife of director Scott, and they have a long list of collaborations together. She has a map leading to a mine shaft which goes to the center of the Earth, down which her husband had descended four years earlier and never returned. As before, part of her motive is to redeem her role in a marriage gone sour.
Central to the rapid unfolding of the story is the reliance on the first person narration ostensibly from the diary kept by young Abel, who dedicates it to his fiancee, angry at his departure on the journey. Most intriguing is the change in the Hans character from the novel; the new version offers a Russian outlaw, Sergei, whose brother had descended with the husband. This provides an appropriate shift of character that merges with the new locale, and also, unlike all previous versions, a compelling reason for the "guide" to descend with the others. Sergei is also vital in helping the expedition reach the lake where, according to the map, on a single July day of the year the sunlight will point out the location of the mine.
There is an attenuated telling of the journey to the underground lake. The only marker among the caves is one at the beginning, in Russian, telling them the correct initial cave to take. On the way, the remains of Sergei's brother are found.
By the shore, trees freshly felled with an axe indicate an earlier traveler, and they decide to also make the journey by raft. Prehistoric birds and a pleisiosaur attack the raft, creatures described as extinct since the ice age. The use of effects is brief and has little impact on the story. Subsequently the film veers in new directions, as in the 1999 version, leaving Verne's novel behind.
An encounter at the shore with a wrecked raft leads to natives who resemble Native Americans, leads, predictably, to finding the husband (Peter Fonda, a modest improvement over the 1999 film's Bryan Brown), who has taken advantage of superstition and made himself king. Some warriors are resisting Edward's rule, and when they unite in opposition, Edward leads the way to a cave reputed to be the way out. Unlike the 1999 version, he is allowed redemption by sacrificing himself to save the others by staying behind to guarantee a dynamite charge that will block the cave. Water overcomes the foursome until finally they are sent to the surface of a lake in a waterspout. They decide to save the tribe from further exploitation by the above-ground world and Abel will keep his diary secret, or in fact, say-as he does in the final sentence-that it is merely a piece of fiction. Meanwhile, Jonas and Martha have realized their attraction for each other.
In this version, the more rapid pacing does not allow the viewer to be quite as aware of the hokeyness of the subplot with the tribes as in the 1999 version. Still, the principal question remains why the producers thought the script of the 1999 version was good enough to deserve a remake. Likely, as in the choice of the Vancouver location, it was simply a matter of the most budget-conscious way to proceed. Still it remains a valid question for audiences to ask.
Journey to the Center of "thrifty",lackluster film making.
Hammock Rider | Talk of the Town Trailer Estates Park - Southern C | 12/30/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Oy! Where to start? This just isn't a good movie. It's cheap, horribly cheaply made. The "Underground world" by some strange happenstance looks exactly like our surface world. And I mean exactly, same lake, same trees same footage of the same bird, everything. When a bear attacks the party, you never see the bear. The filmmakers didn't even bother to have our heroes attacked by archival footage of a bear. You hear it roar. That's it. There is zero sense of wonder or imagination and you get the feeling that's because the creators weren't even interested in trying to instill those things into this film. And that's what's really unforgivable about this movie. I can handle cheap films and sometimes I prefer them that way. But this movie doesn't just cheap out with the monetary budget, it cheaps out on ideas as well. There are plenty of cheap movies that manage to entertain through imagination and smart filmmaking. The actors in this sorry excuse for an adventure movie were all game enough I suppose, Schroeder was as believable as possible as a two-fisted professor type and Victoria Pratt was very appealing in her Western-wear but if the writers and director and producers didn't care much about this movie, which is pretty evident when you see it, then why should I care about it? The answer is; I don't. This movie commits what I consider one of the worst crimes a film can commit, it's totally, entirely and irrevocably forgettable."
An utter disgrace
John J. Morrissey | Baghdad Iraq | 10/16/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I was mislead also as to the release of this tv movie with the big screen remake. This is a horrible disgrace to the book and original story. Pathetic CGI on par with bad Sci Fi channel movies like Anaconda 3 or Kimodo vs Cobra. Inconstant story line,horrible acting and racial stereotypes. And the kid says uncle so many times, it makes you want to put a foot to his grill. Save your money in another 6 months youll find this movie free in a trash heap. I expected more from Peter Fonda!"
Can I Die Yet?
S. Stevenson | 11/03/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I guess I learned one valuable lesson from this version of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH: just because the cover and back matter look pretty exciting, that doesn't mean the movie is going to be anything even close to note-worthy. Such is the case with this Peter Fonda / Ricky Schroder outing, which made me nearly squirm in the chair as I watched. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of being able to review it and warn away other potential buyers from what really is an utter atrocity of film-making.
That's not saying that 100% of this is awful. The one thing that this film has going for it is the cinematography. The settings are brilliant and wonderful. The costume pieces looked great, the props are amazingly detailed, all making me wonder if this would have been better as a documentary of sorts rather than an "action-adventure" film.
The acting is in the toilet. Really. Watching the characters made me feel like I was eating white rice without soy sauce -- blander than anything. Every few moments, the main character, Jonathan Brock, was yelling at his nephew to be careful. Literally as Abel (the nephew) is two feet behind them in the cave, the uncle yells out, "Abel! Stay with us!" about five times. And then there's the obligatory kiss between Martha Dennison, our heroine, and Mr. Brock at the end. Peter Fonda was a hack in this, and really, the only good actor was the Russian man, Sergei, who was highly underused.
All in all, stay away. Far away. This movie was an utter waste of an hour and a half of my life. Sigh. I'm such a sucker for shiny covers."
Boring Disjointed Storyline; Little Acting; Poor CGI
G. Teslovich | 09/28/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"A North American volcano remake that tries to copy the original Journey but ends up with an unrealistic cave, lake and unknown source of sunlight. If there was a suspenseful point to the story or something approaching acting - I missed it. The science behind this remake must have come out of an elementary school dropouts imagination. The cheap, unrealistic CGI of a couple of ancient reptiles was inserted to provide a moment of comic suspense. Then replaced with Native Americans that look like they've been living on the surface yet somehow are able to survive the crushing pressures and temperatures at some unknown depth. Sadly they are portrayed as stereotypic African villagers. And, hand held lasers can't be pointed 10 miles and be seen. People can't be carried in an underwater river and come out in the bottom of a large lake, then rise to the top as if they were in the bathtub - unless they're really marine mammals in disguise as humans."