Journey to the Center of the Earth

Talk about a wild carnival ride! I saw the 3-D version and it was great fun. Between the jaw-dropping visuals and the irony-free depiction of Jules Verne's vision of the center of the earth, I was glad I had suspended disbelief at the door.

Brendan Fraser ("The Mummy" franchise and "Crash") has found a way to inhabit these ridiculous movies and come out of them without either making a fool of himself or making fun of them. I'm not sure how he does it but he's made a pretty good career out of it. Naturally, because he is a graduate of Seattle's Cornish School of the Arts, I have paid particular attention and freely admit to a little bias...

Evidently the book upon which this movie is based had a neglectful dad thrown together with his alienated son. Fraser reasoned that there was no need for the characters to overcome the audience's antipathy and luckily has enough clout that he was able to change the characters. He now plays the boy's uncle who is supposed to entertain him for a couple of weeks while his widowed sister-in-law takes a trip.

The whole movie is fantastical, so I won't try to describe it, but it has little fun things, e.g., when the teenage boy, capably played by Josh Hutcherson ("Bridge to Terabithia" and "Firehouse Dog") sees the mountain guide who will take them to their destination, he quickly says, "I get dibs on the guide!" Fraser is shocked but then takes another look at the guide, played by Icelandic actress Anita Briem, who has a face that grows prettier and prettier, the more you watch her.

I WILL say that 3-D has come a long way since "House of Wax!"