If the big hook of an action adventure movie is suspense, then delivering that sense of breathless anticipation may be more of a feat than the fantastical journey itself. That is, if we’re talking a road well traveled in a journey to the center of the earth by a film with the same title and based on that long familiar classic, 3D or no 3D. And visual effects maven turned director Eric Brevig (Total Recall, Pearl Harbor) made the wise choice for this movie to go with Brendan Fraser as his at-risk protagonist, one of the few funny guys who could grab attention away from a dinosaur in assault mode, in the center of the earth or anywhere else on the planet.
Fraser is Trevor Anderson, a combo nutty professor and Jules Verne enthusiast. When his bratty teen nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) is dumped off at his place because mom needs a babysitter, the fatherless boy brings along the portfolio of scientific research assembled by his late dad – Trevor’s brother – asserting that Verne wasn’t as daffy about underground exploration as he may have appeared to be.
Following the revised instructions for below surface entry, the two take off for Iceland, where they solicit the services of reluctant expert explorer Hannah (Anita Briem) as tour guide, for a hefty price. After fast forward accidental plummeting far below earth, the terrified trio encounter a prehistoric world inhabited more by endangering than endangered species, lots of magical distractions, and a bit of premeditated flirtations and unpremeditated life-saving along the way.
Oddly enough, the 3D in-your-face brushes with retro-futuristic deadly creatures are not the entire main course. Many of the engaging scenes can be enjoyed the old fashioned way, minus the special effects glasses, simply for the sheer infusion of wacky humor and that playful force of personality Fraser provides. Who knew science fiction and comedy could reactivate Jules Verne.