Journey to the Center of the Earth (PG)
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So, this is of course vaguely based on the book by Jules Verne, which I'm afraid I haven't read. It's been adapted many times, and I think I've probably seen at least one adaptation before this, but I don't really remember. Though this isn't an adaptation, exactly. Because characters in the movie are aware of the book. But I should begin at the beginning.
There's this professor of volcanology or whatever, Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser), who has to look after his 13-year-old nephew, Sean (Josh Hutcherson), for like 10 days, while Sean's mother looks for a place for the two of them to move to. At first, Sean isn't wild about the idea of staying with his uncle, and Trevor seems ill-prepared for it, himself. But when Sean's mom drops Sean off, she also gives Trevor a box of his brother Max's old stuff. Max (Sean's father), another volcanologist, had gone missing 10 years ago, so Sean never really had a chance to know him. Among the things in the box is a copy of "A Journey to the Center of the Earth," which was Max's favorite book. When Trevor looks through the book, he finds notes written by Max, which correspond to Trevor's own seismic readings, which seem to be the same now as they were when Max disappeared. This excites him, and when he and Sean go to Trevor's lab, there are four blips on a computer screen when there should be three. I dunno, I didn't really understand everything, but the upshot is it means Trevor decided to head to Iceland, the site of the new blip, figuring Max must have gone there before disappearing. He doesn't intend to bring Sean with him, but the kid insists.
When they get there, they look for another volcanologist, whose name was in the margins of Max's book. But it turns out he'd died a few years ago. The guy's daughter, Hannah, offers her services as a mountain guide (that is, her professional services; she's not gonna be doing this for free). The three of them end up getting trapped by a cave-in, and that's when their adventure begins. I'm not going to detail all that happens to them, but they discover that all the stuff described in Jules Verne's book was real. (Earlier, Hannah had mentioned that her father- and apparently Max- had been "Vernians," people who believed that Verne's supposed science fiction was real, which she herself didn't believe. At least, not until she, Trevor, and Sean saw it all with their own eyes.) Anyway, the three of them have to find a way to return to the surface of the Earth, after falling a very long way. The things they encounter along the way... well, I could easily have put this review under "science fiction," but I just sort of felt like treating the movie as if it was remotely plausible. Which it's not, but whatever.
So, I guess I'll just say the adventure was sort of fun to watch. There were good visual effects, and there were amusing bits, and emotional bits (Sean and Trevor dealing with the loss of Max), and um... I dunno. It wasn't a great movie, but it was okay.
The movie was followed four years later by a sequel, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. A third movie is in the works.