Journey to the Center of the Earth Reviews
It's quite amazing what they managed to accomplish in 1959 to create the wonderful world of Jules Verne. There is some light hearted banter, heart stopping moments of perile, danger and despair, and monsters. Lots and lots of giant monsters... or every day lizards made to look like them at least.
If you love classic cinema and are a fan of adventure films such as Romancing the Stone or Indiana Jones, Journey to the Center of the Earth is right up your alley. If you'd prefer flashy CG and such, go watch the lesser remake.
But i do remember being exhilarated as a child, going on this wonderful journey and found the atalantis.... up there with planet of the apes in terms of making an impression.
As with many older films, Journey to the Centre of the Earth incurs a slow pace. The problem however is that since the hopes I had for it were for a good campy adventure story, the fact that the film spent so much time building up characters and putting in random dramatic elements which really aren't that interesting. I wasn't too fond of the 2008 remake of Journey to the Centre of the Earth, but it at least had fast paced energy. It takes about half the movie until it actually gets interesting, and from there it still maintains a slow pace. The only difference is that by then the adventure is more intriguing because the scenery and production design of the film becomes terrific so it takes a positive turn, yet the story still fails to remain engaging. The characters in the script are one-dimensional figures who are hardly compelling or all that interesting which presents no hope that they can bring any more meaning to the film. But the point is that viewers are unlikely to go into Journey to the Centre of the Earth with the expectation of depth or complex characters as what it boasts is good visual elements. The problem is that there is not enough of them. The entire first hour is dominated by thin characters and repetitive scenery until it gets better in the latter half, although by then the damage is already done.
The monsters don't even come in until nearly 100 minutes into the film. This is a shame because considering how cleverly realistic they look, they are some of the finest visual aspects of the feature. They capitalise on the strong visual talents of director Henry Levin to the maximum extent and give the feature some really good scenes, so if there were more of them then the film could be a hell of a lot better. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Journey to the Centre of the Earth had the potential to be a great adventure film with camp and nostalgic value in the modern day, but unfortunately the lack of fun just encourages it to have aged poorly. Journey to the Centre of the Earth is one of those films where the age must be taken into account during viewing, but it is just not a film which has aged well. The visual elements are all good, but the pacing and the focus of the story is just not on par.
Journey to the Centre of the Earth begs for a comparison to the science fiction adventure Fantastic Voyage. Fantastic Voyage did not have the most interesting plot, but its exploration of the human body was carried mostly by visual elements while also containing a sense that the characters had limited time to succeed and were constantly at threat which gave it a certain driving force. In Journey to the Centre of the Earth, there is no sense of constant threat and there is little narrative value in the film as it is carried strictly on the basis of how much adventure it can provide from a visual perspective. The story is no good but the visuals are, yet the film takes itself way too seriously and allows no room for cheesy fun to take place. There is a distinct lack of humour in Journey to the Centre of the Earth which means that it lacks as much fun as it could have used to make it more of an exciting and cheesy adventure film, and at the same time it lacks a premise engaging enough to serve as a legitimately involving or entertaining adventure film. All in all the ultimate flaw in Journey to the Centre of the Earth is that it takes itself too seriously. It focuses way too much on the story and not enough on the adventure all while trying to make the one dimensional characters of the story out to be more than they actually are, but failing to do so. The film is a shallow tale of adventure fun and should stay that way instead of trying to be a compelling tale of heroism, because there is really no way of getting attached to the characters, so trying is pointless.
But there is no denying just how interesting Journey to the Centre of the Earth is to look at.
Like I said before, the visual effects in Journey to the Centre of the Earth are terrific. And a lot of further colour is added to the film thanks to the strong and convincing scenery of the film as well as the excellent production design. Everything looks good in Journey to the Centre of the Earth and is captured with top notch cinematography which is then edited well, so when it is focused on the adventure it serves as a terrific visual experience. There are a lot of memorable images from Journey to the Centre of the Earth, particularly in the scenes towards the end of the film where the characters experience a rafting trip across the ocean and more so when they face off with Archelons. If the film was more focused on this kind of thing then it could have been the cheesy and nostalgic adventure film that I was hoping for, and it is truly a shame that it wasted such potential. Journey to the Centre of the Earth comes up short in action and adventure, but mostly it's just short on great imagery.
So although Journey to the Centre of the Earth sports the best intentions and a lot of strong visual elements, it gets too caught up in taking itself too seriously to be anything more than an excessively slow and humourless adventure film which has aged poorly and lacks enough proper focus to elevate itself beyond its thin premise and one-dimensional characters.
Kids liked it a lot.