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The 2008 film version of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH ($36) has little to do with the story contained in the Jules Verne novel, instead Verne’s tale using it as a launching point for a cinematic experience designed to exploit the possibilities of modern 3D moviemaking. JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH finds Brendan Fraser in the role of Professor Trevor Anderson, a vulcanologist, who is visited by nephew, Sean (Josh Hutcherson). A box of possessions, including a copy of Journey To The Center Of The Earth, belonging to Trevor’s missing brother Max, leads the uncle and nephew to Iceland, where they need to check the data from one of Max’s few remaining volcano sensors. In Iceland, Trevor and Sean encounter mountain guide Hannah Ásgeirsson (Anita Briem), who agrees to take the two up to the sensor. Circumstances beyond their control leave Trevor, Sean and Hannah trapped inside an old mine, which also turns out to be an entranceway to the center of the earth. What follows is all the spectacle of a 3D thrill ride, which filmmakers have built from the ground down, in their synthetic CGI rendering of the center of the Earth.

New Line Home Entertainment has made JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The Blu-ray release features both the 2D and 3D versions of the film- with four pairs of 3D glasses included in the package. High definition suits 3D reproduction better than standard definition and JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH is the best 3D experience that I have ever had at home. However, the home 3D system still remains far from perfect. Still, one will have a blast with all the stuff leaping off screen or being thrown at the audience.

The 2D 1080p presentation is actually the better way to appreciate the sharpness and image detail contained in the movie. Color reproduction is also better in 2D, as the colored lenses for 3D tend to skew the colors. However, hues are never stunning on the 2D presentation. Blacks, whites, contrast and shadow detail also rate pretty darn good, but not exemplary. I do want to note the synthetic nature of this particular production, doesn’t make for the most organic of presentations, nor does it make JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH a film that one would demo hi-def.

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital 640kbps soundtrack. Being an action/adventure movie, there are plenty of sound effects that are deployed in an aggressive manner. Of course, we also get a whole lot of talky passages, where the sound is much simpler. Fidelity is good for a lossy soundtrack, but it does have a robust bottom end that shakes the ground every chance it gets. Dialog is crisp and always easy to understand. A Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track has also been encoded onto the disc, as have English and Spanish subtitles.

The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. First we have a running Audio Commentary with actor Brendan Fraser and director Eric Brevig. Next is A World Within Our World: Various Hollow Earth Theories- this program takes a looks at the scientific and fictional theories about the possibilities of a world existing underneath the surface of the Earth. Being Josh: is an on set profile of actor Josh Hutcherson, while How To Make Dinosaur Drool, is a brief FX piece.

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH offers some fun, but is the theatrical equivalent of a theme park ride. Having the film in hi-def makes the 3D version work better at home, but the 2D version isn’t a demo disc for the Blu-ray format in general.



Journey to the Center of the Earth (2-D and Limited-Edition 3-D) [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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