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Journey to the Center of the Earth

When Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) discovers his missing brother's notes, he sets out to Iceland with his nephew (Josh Hutcherson) to investigate his sibling's geological theories. Enlisting a fellow scientist's daughter (Anita Briem) as a guide, their Icelandic mountain trek descends into the center of the earth, where dinosaurs and other strange prehistoric creatures still dwell. The trio must find a way back to the surface or face being stranded miles below the earth's crust.

This update of Jules Verne's classic novel is a fun adventure, but it's geared towards younger audiences, and my kids really enjoyed it. The screenplay is rather shallow, especially the first act, where the character development is a bit weak in order to get to the 3D effects as quickly as possible. Those effects are decent, although I've never been a big fan of 3D films.

The disc comes with four sets of 3-D glasses, but unfortunately, they are the cheap red-and-green cardboard variety and aren't very comfortable to wear. Still, the disc and glasses offer up a pleasing picture with nice depth and detail. There are plenty of 3D effects, especially on the journey as the heroes descend toward the center of the earth, but after 40 minutes, we decided to watch the 2D version because of eye- strain. The green-screen segments look decent, although softer by comparison to the real-world shots. Contrast is a bit on the hot side with some blooming whites and elevated the black levels, sacrificing inky blacks for dark gray.

The 640kbps Dolby Digital soundtrack is very good, but the decision by New Line to omit a lossless option is puzzling. Regardless, the track boasts impressive dynamics and an active surround presence. Panning effects fly seamlessly around the room, and the LFE channel is put to good use with deep, tight bass. Dialog sometimes gets lost in the action, harming intelligibility, although considering the sub-par dialog, this may might not be such a bad thing.

The sparse bonus features are presented in HD, although there isn't much too them. Three separate featurettes run a total of 19 minutes and include a look discussion of at the science behind the Jules Verne novel, a piece on young actor Josh Hutcherson, and a look at one of the special effects depicted in the film. Rounding things out is an audio commentary by Brendan Fraser and director Eric Bevig and the inclusion of a digital copy of the film for use on portable players..

Journey to the Center of the Earth is a fun popcorn film geared towards younger audiences, and on that note, it delivers. The Blu-ray presentation is adequate, but the limited bonus features don't bring much to the table. It's worth a rental, especially if you have younger kids.

Release Date: October 28, 2008

Movie: 6/10
Picture: 8/10
Sound: 8/10

Review System

Source
Panasonic DMP-BD55

Display
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Electronics
Onkyo Pro 85 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 Amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner

Speakers
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Cables
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector

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