It’s happening. Across the Web, early reviews for next weekend’s Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D are moderately apologetic and yet thoroughly positive, with a fair number of comparisons to the “Spielbergian wonder of old” popping up in support. Like seductive ooze, it seems that Hollywood’s first live-action tent-pole in the forthcoming theatrical 3D boom (boon?), will win over moviegoers with great 3D special effects, an epic wonderland scope and, to quote Variety, the “highest screams-per-capita ratio in the history of action-adventure pics.” Lalala. In other words, it’s only a movie-as-theme park ride, but they like it…well, save for the scene where star Brendan Fraser spits into a sink in 3D. And there’s also a requisite 3D yo-yo scene to rival the one in Friday the 13th Part 3(D). Where’s a hologram of Pauline Kael when we need it?
Based on the marketing, he expected to hate the film, but Cinematical‘s Christopher Campbell informs that it’s an “astonishing 3D experience” and admits twice in his review that he “reverted back to my 8-year-old self”…
“Basically, throughout the movie there are three kinds of effects shots, which I labeled as silly, neat or wow! As you might guess, most of the time the shots fall within the “neat” range. But those considered ‘wow!’ are really ‘wow!’ They more than make up for those I label ‘silly.’ …With Journey, I was immersed almost entirely, only conscious of my real surroundings when the audience jumped, gasped and/or laughed at (with) the pop-out 3-D effects.”
He compares the film sans “wow” but favorably to The Goonies and Raiders, but says that, in the end, Journey‘s flimsy storyline can’t compete. Surveying the early reactions online, perhaps the film’s TV spots should feature excited testimonials from kids outfitted in mysteriously over-sized and mundane clothing. Over at CinemaBlend, Katey Rich gives the film 4 1/2 stars, saying…
“Experiencing it all in glorious 3D ups the ante—it’ll be a brave 8-year-old who never finds his palms sweating. …Journey 3D is predictable, cheesy and not even a little edgy, but it’s also as much fun as you’re likely to have in a PG movie this summer.”
Palm sweat! Take that Speed Racer, Kung Fu Panda, Meet Dave and Midnight Meat Train. Spoiler alert: Rich says that a “T. rex, for whatever reason, lives happily in the earth’s molten core.” And with that, we’ll circle back around with a closing endorsement from Variety’s John Anderson, who feels that Journey‘s cocktail of humor, an ever-entertaining Fraser, and “thrills a minute” would be just as successful in 2D.
“…fortunately [the film has] thesp Brendan Fraser—whose mission in Hollywood seems to be to humanize the most f/x-besotted adventure. Boisterous action, 3-D visuals and equal doses of humor and chills should rocket the deep-dwelling tale into strong B.O. orbit.”
For many months, Journey 3D was anticipated by skeptics (like ourselves, but less carefree) to be surefire evidence that Hollywood will utilize its new 3D tech to shovel empty spectacle into theaters for years to come. Similar to Paramount’s roll-out with Beowulf (which was awesome), New Line will release Journey in both 3D (approx. 1,000 screens) and 2D (lawd, the children). Several reports peg Journey‘s budget as far, far less than Beowulf‘s $150 million, but its box office performance will be a more definitive sign of whether 3D is the future of cinema—especially family-oriented stuff—or simply an increasingly alarming option for stoned college kids at midnight. Either way, Brendan Fraser has The Mummy 7.
Discuss: Will you check out Journey 3D and how do you think it will perform this summer? What do you think of the early reviews?
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Last night I was lucky enough to screen 20 or so minutes of the upcoming Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D. Brendan Fraser was in attendance, speaking at snail speed as he was obviously ill. During Fraser’s panel, the actor explained that when he received the draft of the script, it had been rewritten many times by many writers. This is normal in Hollywood, he added. I thought to myself, ‘Yeah, it’s probably normal for a Brendan Fraser movie…” I digress.
So what is so special about Journey 3D? It’s the first digital 3D feature film created with the super duper special fusion high definition camera system that James Cameron used on Avatar. The camera system allows the two camera eyes to be moved closer or further apart to massage the 3D effect. Apparently you could never accomplish this with a 3D film camera.
We screened five scenes, an intense mine cart rollercoaster ride almost directly stolen from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I expect some people might feel sick after this one, but the 3D effects are some of the best I have seen to date. You feel like you’re riding a theme park ride. The next sequence took place in a cave involving electric birds which fly around off of the screen and glow. A sequence on a rainy boat where they are being attacked by a swarm of huge pirana-like fish. The rain flies off the screen, out at the audience. In another sequence Brendan Fraser’s character saves Hannah from a giant carnivorous plant. And the last sequence involved Josh Hutcherson’s character trying to scape the wrath of a large T-Rex.
The special effects look very untextured compared to a lot of the big budget films of today, but like Beowulf the 3D quickly makes you forget some of the visual shortcomings. The story is as lame as it can get, packed with cheesy one-liners that a six year old might not even laugh at. That said, this was a very fun experience in a theme park ride kind of way. This is by far the most impressive 3D I have seen to date on a big screen release. Every shot was planned with that intention, and you can tell. But at the same time it doesn’t over-do the pop-out-at-you effects. There is a story after-all, unfortunately.
Director Eric Brevig worked on Captin EO and Honey I Shrunk the Audience, and what he has created is a theme park ride which can be shown at your local multiplex. The technological advances and fun factor over-weigh the horrendously bad script and subpar special effects. But the question is, is anyone interested in seeing this movie?
New Line has released seven new photos from Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D. Yesterday they premiered the theatrical one-sheet, which seems as generic as these new production photos. I’m a sucker for 3D, so I’ll be there opening night (or at a press screening, if they decide to have one), and chances are I’ll probably like it. 3D is the new cool gimmick, and I’m a prime consumer. More photos after the jump, as always, click to enlarge.
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The first poster for this summer’s Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D is now online, and yes, it’s a poster for a movie, not some theme park extravaganza. Those stalactites almost look like the teeth of a giant monster. Weird. And is that Nessie in the background playing the old “I’m crushing your head” game with School Ties star Brendan Fraser? Ooh la la. And watch out for that exotic blue humming bird at the bottom; it’s coming right at you! Mikey likes it.
The debut directorial feature of visual effects maestro Eric Brevig (Men in Black, House II, Signs), Journey 3D is based on the Jules Verne novel of the same name (sans the technological spiffiness). IMDB reports that original director Paul Chart journeyed far far away from the project after New Line insisted the film require kooky glasses. The words “theme park” were apparently muttered as well. It was Chart’s favorite book ever.
Beowulf (3D IMAX, natch) made for one of my favorite theatrical experiences in recent memory, and I’m all for 3D films in the marketplace; but the fingers of 3D detractors are already pointing at Journey 3D as an example of how Hollywood plans to put the technology first and leave the plot hanging upside down for two hours. It’s a pretty wild conspiracy theory, and pretty funny too.