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Movie Review

Journey to the Center of the Earth a.k.a. “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D,” “Matka maan uumeniin,” “Viagem ao Centro da Terra 3D,” “Voyage au centre de la terre 3D”

MPAA Rating: PG for intense adventure action and some scary moments.

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray

Better than Average
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Primary Audience:
Family, Kids, Teens, Adults
Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure, Family, Fantasy, 3D
1 hr. 32 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
July 11, 2008
DVD: October 28, 2008
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Geology and the Earth

Featuring: Brendan Fraser
The Mummy
The Mummy Returns

Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem, Giancarlo Caltabiano, Garth Gilker, Kaniehtiio Horn
Director: Eric Brevig
Producer: Cale Boyter, Michael Disco, Beau Flynn, Brendan Fraser, Cary Granat, Charlotte Huggins, W. Mark McNair, Alex Schwartz, Mylan Stepanovich, Evan Turner, Tripp Vinson
Distributor: New Line Cinema

“Same planet. Different world.”

The 1959 film version of “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” with James Mason, Pat Boone, and a lot of slithery cool dinosaurs, was one of my favorite movies as a kid that finally made it to TV in living color. It had a certain odd ominous air, with its crew of explorers getting increasingly desperate in their attempt to survive. Somber and serious and a lot of creep-out factor compared to this new breathtaking, high-tech special effects CGI wonder.

Based very loosely on the 1864 book of the same title by Jules Verne, this “Journey to the Center of the Earth” directed by Eric Brevig, Academy Award winner for visual effects (“Total Recall,” “Pearl Harbor”), wows the audience with its incredible special effects. Now in spectacular 3-D, the 2008 version is an adventure well worth the price of admission. Your kids will love it, and hey, what better way to expose them to some science without them even knowing it.

Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) is an unconventional scientist who is a die hard “Vernean,” which means he is of a select group who believes Verne’s book was not speculative fiction but scientific fact. Anderson makes his way to Iceland with his nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) in tow, on a 10-day exploratory expedition. The reason being, he believes that the copy of the Verne novel with mathematical equations and hidden symbols written in it’s pages by his long lost brother, tells the way to enter the craggy volcanic openings in the mountains of Iceland and literally travel to the center of the Earth. They are joined by a local mountain guide named Hannah Ásgeirsson (Anita Briem) and actually discover a passage into the very center of the Earth, just as the book, actually an Inner Planet Travel Guide, tells.

The 3-D effects were great from the very first moment when Professor Anderson brushes his teeth, swishes and spits right out into the audience, through thrilling explosions, slobbering gigantic T-Rex’s, roller coaster rides along a dangerous old mining track (Ala Indiana Jones), flying fish baseball, and beautiful visions like neon glowing birds in flight and wisps of puff balls blown off of giant dandelions that magically swirl off the screen and around your head.

In my opinion, the best scene: When Trevor’s nephew, Sean, clings in fear of his life to floating magnetic rocks above the deepest abyss you've ever seen! Truly a situation that could give even jaded video gamers stomach wrenching vertigo.

This is a movie perfect for the entire family. The little ones may be scared by the effects that pop out of the screen in very realistic fashion and the special 3-D glasses may be awkward for small faces, but I would say anyone nine or over will have no problem with the glasses or the film’s visual stimulation. Little boys, especially will love the dinos, and Fraser’s obvious “cool” humor. I found the PG rating for adventure action and some scary moments appropriate. There is a reference to having “dibs” on Hannah, the beautiful young mountain guide, by both guys, but it is said in the spirit of good fun. Trevor and Hannah do have a kiss, but it is sweet and did not make me uncomfortable.

I especially would like to direct kids and parents to the official “Journey to the Center of the Earth” Web site, which is full of fun things to see and do, striking images and movie and cast bios, along with info on the making of the film. The Escape game is fun along with The Flip Side, a scientific well of information about the opposite sides of planet Earth. A very impressive inclusion is The Ásgeirsson Institute’s fictional Web site, which looks exactly like an actual Web site full of links and information for any believing “Vernean” explorer.

I would say any kid or evan adult who never has read the novel by Jules Verne will have an uncontrollable urge to seek out Journey To The Center of The Earth at stores or their public library, after seeing this visually beautiful and thrill-a-minute movie. It is great to note that Hollywood can make live action movies for the entire family to enjoy and has brought a new dimension to the art form of 3-D to theaters. Oh and one more thing, a nod is taken at the conclusion of the film that Professor Anderson and Sean just might be off on a new adventure to find the lost city of Atlantis in the future.

I look forward to that!

Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—I really enjoyed this film, and it is definitely family-friendly. It is quite thrilling and full of special effects. It also has good comedic value and will have you laughing and smiling in a few spots. It will also warm your heart with various moments. Overall, you will leave the theater with a smile on your face and glad that you spent the money.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jill, age 34
Positive—Our whole family liked this film so much that we wanted to see it again. This time in 3D. The two closest cinemas did not have the 3D version. So beware, if you expect yours to have it, too.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Bruce, age 50
Positive—It is hard to view this movie without first recalling the original Disney version of this movie. The second fact is that it is hard to separate Brendan Fraser from his two greatest hits, dealing with “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns.”

Having said that, this movie (which we saw in 2-D, and not the 3-D which it was intended to be viewed) was a good, solid movie. While watching it, neither my wife nor I heard any curse words or obscenities. Probably the closest one was when Brendan Fraser's character talked about schist, a type of mineral associated with volcanic activity. It will catch the viewers attention, as it is very similar to an obscenity. However, that is as close (as I could determine) of any type of obscenity. In cases where one would expect to hear such words (in times of stress), none are forthcoming.

There are no sexual innuendo's or anything inappropriate to be seen. Several kisses are exchanged, but they flow with the movie, are not suggestive in any way, except what one might see of a couple falling in love.

What this movie does look at is Faith. Trevor Anderson has complete faith in what was written down, in both Jules Verne's work and the subsequent work of his brother, and believes in what is written. He is willing to experience the unknown, to face great danger, to travel to areas that are unexplored just because of his faith in the two stories. His companions do not believe (no faith) in the “primary documents,” and at first are pulled along because of Trevor's Anderson's faith. It isn't until a bit into the movie that they both see that Trevor's faith is real and there was/is something to back it up. This is much like a Christian and his/her faith. We believe in something that we have not seen and did not experience personally. We believe, we have Faith in not only the blood of Jesus Christ; his death, burial and resurrection; but also his return to claim his own. As Paul said, if all of what Christ taught us, we of all people are most miserable. As the movie concludes with, there are rewards for being faithful.

Having said that, I would recommend this movie. There are scenes in this movie that one can tell were specifically designed for 3-D. Scenes are consistent, though Brendan Fraser sounds much like he did in the Mummy series, but he provides humor and comic relief.

Hannah Ásgeirsson in many ways is more “macho” than Brendon, but she fits in with the plot, as a Icelandic lady who has climbed many of the mountains in Iceland.

Sean starts out as a young man caught up in his own world, but soon discovers not only is there more to life than a computer game (or a computer system) but that there are personal relations that are move important than an inanimate object than a computer.

Overall, a good movie. It is a shame it wasn't in 3-D, but still a good movie. I question the rating that the movie board gave as the only thing I saw that might be objectionable are some of the dinosaur scenes, and the associated violence (non of it gratuitous) that is related to dinosaurs and feeding. Go see the movie, but then take a spin back in time and see, once again, the Disney version. You will see the similarities, but you will then see the differences. This movie provides both.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—David, age 58
Positive—I took my wife, my 19 year old daughter and my 13 year old son to see “Journey” this afternoon. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. It was one of those rare films that when the end comes you can't believe it was 1½ hours long. The only part in the movie that even approached off-color was when Brendan Fraser's character was talking about a geological formation called a schist, which is a metamorphic rock that comes in many varieties. His nephew didn't understand him at first and later in the movie there was one instance of an innuendo using the word again. Other than that, the love of Brendan Fraser's character for his lost brother and the bond he builds with his brother's son were prominently highlighted in the movie. Lots of action and some pretty good CGI, too.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—G Johnston, age 46
Positive—This was an amusing enough movie, but a little too predictable. The characters also weren't developed quite enough for my liking. I cared about them, but not as much as I should have. I wish there had been a better back-story, but overall it was entertaining and there were a few unexpected moments. However, it would be better to just rent this one, rather than pay for it at the theater. This is a good one for kids though, since there is no profanity or sexuality.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Nicole, age 23
Positive—First off, I will say that up until three weeks ago, Brendan Fraser was just a name to me. I drew blanks when people asked if I'd seen “The Mummy,” and waved as “George of the Jungle” sailed on by. Then my older sister asked if I wanted to watch “The Mummy” with her, and I accepted the offer. Now I have seen it, “The Mummy Returns,” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” all within a rather short period of time.

I admired Brendan's acting ability and what I would call natural strength. He clearly enjoys his roles, and I am so pleased with this newest turn-out for him. This movie caught my attention from the moment I first saw the trailer, and I did watch the whole film in 3-D, something that is truly unforgettable.

The movie itself has very few problems. There is a mention of some rocks forming for millions of years, and leanings towards the big-bang theory. Even with those issues, which I'm sure would bother some people, the movie is worth seeing.


Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) has a boring life. Or rather, the things he does with it are boring. He is a scientist who lectures at a local college to a rapidly shrinking class. One habit he has is to put his loose pocket change into gallon-size glass jars, which is a habit most parents might encourage their children to do after viewing the movie. Another habit, not quite so pleasant nor harmless as the first, is how much of a messcat he is. Being single and therefore unsupervised, Trevor allows piles of dirty dishes to grow around him, along with dirty laundry, magazines, and mail.

Even so, with all his faults, Trevor has a big heart, and often feels grief about his older brother, Max (Jean Michel Paré), who has been missing since 1997. He even offers to let Max's now teenage son, Sean (Josh Hutcherson) come stay with him for a few days. A touching gesture to be sure, but Trevor allows the date to slip his mind and frantically tries to clean his house ten minutes before Sean and his sister-in-law arrive (an amusing spectacle!). Elizabeth (Jane Wheeler), is planning a move to Canada, where she hopes Sean and her can make a better life. After dropping her son off, she also gives Trevor a box of Max's things.

Inside this box of memories is a very worn copy of Jules Verne's book, A Journey to the Center of the Earth. Trevor recalls how his older brother used to read the story to him when they were young, and thumbs through the pages. But what he finds there between will take him, his nephew Sean, and an intrepid mountain guide, Hannah Ásgeirsson (Anita Briem), on the journey of a lifetime…

Since I only saw the movie in 3-D, I can't account for how it would be quality-wise on the regular screen. I do know that the story is not for children, because the four year old girl sitting next to me in the theater kept burying her head in her mother's shirt and acting very frightened. And there is plenty to be frightened of in the Center of the Earth. Dinosaurs and large carnivorous fish are brutal, and rapid scenes full of tense action are interspersed throughout the movie. The heat is rising in that land, making it beautiful AND deadly, and human (and most kinds of) life can't survive such extreme bake-oven conditions. There are huge Venus flytraps that attempt to kill Hannah, and Trevor has to fight for her life. And on top of that, Sean winds up going missing at one point, and has to cross a huge bottomless cavern filled with magnetized “floating” boulders.

There is also some humor revolving around Hannah, who is very pretty. Trevor is clearly smitten from the start, while Sean exhibits puppy love. Sean starts a rather amusing ongoing argument with his uncle about who gets “dibs” on the mountain guide. Hannah, however, tells them both that no-one gets her, something she winds up rethinking by the end of the film. There are a couple of kisses exchanged in the movie, but nothing offensive. Also some interspersed curse words, but not the really bad ones.

Now just because I liked it doesn't mean everyone will, but people should give this excellent Brendan Fraser movie a chance. And I do have a slight correction for the actual review for Journey to the Center of the Earth here on ChristianAnswers. It is Trevor's brother Max who is the “Vernean,” not Trevor himself, who shows some doubt about that kind of thing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Caitlin, age 19
Positive—I, my wife, son, and his family saw the movie in 3D and all liked it. I would not recommend seeing it in other than in 3D, because that is what makes it better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Howard, age 63
Positive—This movie was well made. It had lots of action which kept the audience alive. We saw it in 3-D. Everyone was dressed appropriately. I didn't have to worry about sexual innuendos or covering the children's eyes because of inappropriate scenes. It may be a little scary for a child under the age of 8. My son who is 8 himself, took off his 3-D glasses a couple of times during the dinosaur scene. Other than that, he loved it. I had two 11 year old girls and a 14 year old with me also. They too enjoyed the movie very much.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Sandy, age 34
Positive—The title “Journey to the Center of the Earth” alone tells you that the story is gonna be somewhat interesting. Watching the trailers urged and nudged me to see this movie. Yesterday I went to go see it with a friend and we were both AMAZED at how exciting the movie was. Her and I were literally gasping the entire time and covering our hands with our mouth. Everything was so spectacular. The animation was stunning. Honestly. The scene with the dinosaur… what can I say? I actually thought that WAS a real dinosaur, but then I'm like, “No, wait… it's animation!” Brilliant, brilliant.

I want to see it in 3D now.

Josh Hutcherson (who played Sean in this movie and starred in “Bridge to Terabithia”) is such a great kid actor. I was really impressed with him alone! I'm not going to spoil it for anyone, but there is this one emotional scene where he has to cry. He did such a great acting job in that scene, he pulled all the emotion together in that scene. I'm not even kidding. I wanted to cry.

Two other adults were acting in that scene, but Josh Hutcherson was the one who brought the scene together. That's what I thought anyway. If he hadn't been in that scene… well, it still would have been touching, but not AS touching. I almost cried, I really did. I even looked over at my friend, and she was even misty-eyed.

As far as morals go, it was pretty clean. I don't remember any swearing or innuendos. I think it's a good family movie. The last movie I went to go see in theaters was Wall-E, and this one is far better! I will be adding this one to my DVD collection once it's out and available.

My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Sarah, age 18
Positive—I just took my 6-year-old son and 11 and 13-year-old daughters and our neighbor's 13-year-old son to see “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” I read the reviews from this page before taking them, and I appreciate the accuracy of the other reviews. We did not see the movie in 3D which was probably good for the first viewing.

My 6-year-old said he was a little frightened when the characters fell, faced the flying fish, and ran from the dinosaur, but he did not look away and said the movie was great. My daughters were gripping the arms of their chairs because the action was so compelling, but they LOVED this movie. Our neighbor's son said it was very cool. (I love movies that cater to all of my children.)

What did I not like about this movie? As someone said in another review, Sean (13 years old) says he gets “dibs” on the mountain guide, Hannah, which insinuates a lot more than my kids realized (and perhaps that the character meant). Also, at one point, Trevor names a rock and you think he's using an explicative, but he's not—subtle. I'd have to say the worst part was a preview, which had some questionable content.

What did I like about this movie? I love the emphasis on family and the father's love for his son. (Yes, I had tears in my eyes.) The special effects, even when NOT in 3D, were terrific, and the storyline was perfect for children AND parents. The emphasis on education and using your mind was great—missed in so many films today. We enjoyed the lightheartedness of the movie; we didn't have to discuss any underlying political messages or address any disturbing parts of the movie.

This film did not profess the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but neither did it profane His name or present questionable materials. I did not see any reference to immorality, witchcraft, or anything else—other than the two subtleties mentioned above—that a Christian would need to guard against. I did not hear the Lord's name in vain during the film. (I don't think I missed that.)

The movie is correctly rated PG. You don't want to send a little kid to see this and sit elsewhere. But it's a great family film, and now we want to go back and take my husband! Thank you, Walden, for a children's version of the old Indiana Jones: excitement, action, family, education, and… reading. I can't wait to read Verne's novel now!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Carie Lambert, age 39
Positive—The film “Journey to the Center of the Earth” is a great film with wonderful special effects, and some cool scientific possibilities.

I would recommend the film to anyone. I will admit that it was slow in some cases and the fast action might scare younger audiences, but it is nothing graphic or gory. It is just a clean adventure film that is suitable for all ages.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Jacob Airey, age 19
Positive—“Journey to the Center of the Earth” is one of Jules Vernes most famous books. It has been made into a film some 14 times and …counting. The latest is perhaps the best of the recent versions by far. The 1950's version with James Mason and Pat Boone is technically the most faithful version of the book, however even it needed some extra padding here and there, but still stands as the best of the lot and well worth hunting down at the local video store.

The 3D-2008 version however is equally outstanding for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most important being the fact that it stresses the importance of the original book by Verne. In fact, the book is integral to the story itself. Hopefully, it will spur young minds to seek it out the book and read it for themselves. Another reason it is such a good version is that it is a “family film” in the truest sense of the word. Adults will enjoy the spectacular imagery, the kids will enjoy the runaway mine train and flying glowfish.

It is unfortunate that the film is not shown in 3D at all the theaters but apparently that is due to a technical issue beyond a theaters’ control. Finding a theater showing it in 3d can be challenging, but I found by doing a google search. “Journey 3d theater” and the list came up eventually.

After seeing it in 3D, I do wonder how impressive it would be in a regular theater. However, in a summer of blockbusters that are often very dark and depressing, “Journey” is a refreshing change. It is total fantasy and extremely fun. You walk away from the film, wanting to find a copy of the original book and reread it once again. In an age when “reading” is becoming a lost art, any movie that encourages its viewers to go home and do just that, is worth the price of admission.

In a season of dark films masquerading as family fare, this is one that every Christian can go to and not feel cheated or mislead.

My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Russell Sterger, age 51
Positive—Excellent movie. I went with my two boys, 11 and 13 and we saw it in 3-D. Wow. (spoiler alert) My only question is who buried the brother?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Pamela A., age 41
Positive—Not that good as a movie, with acting somewhat wooden, but the 3D special effects are GREAT, especially if you have a family. With fish leaping out the water at you, dodging yo-yos, etc. The kids in the audience were screaming all the way through. Great fun! But do watch it in 3D. A friend of mine saw the flat screen version and was disappointed.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—David Littlewood, age 60
Positive—An enjoyable and worthwhile movie… The acting is fairly good and the special effects better than average. There is nothing offensive, no swearing or crude behavior that I could detect on initial viewing. This is good for a family night even with smaller children as the action keeps a good pace, the humor outweighs the drama and violence is kept to a bare minimum.

There is an inherent belief in Darwinian evolution, but it never takes center stage and is never verbally promoted. The overall tone is light, if whimsical, and your kids might even learn a little about geology, if a lot about fantasy :)
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Joel Weber, age 36
Neutral—The movie has cheesey storytelling combined with only average special effects (if not seen in 3D). The movie's humor and Brendan Fraser's acting are what make it watchable.

As far as the morality of the movie goes, there are things that if they had left out, I would have given it a “Good” rating. The first one is near the end of the movie: the lead actress wears an outfit that is just too provacative (but this is a “PG” movie and not a 'G'). The second one is that they say this certain word a few times that rhymes with a vulger word, and they say it in the same context as the vulger word.

This movie's entertainment quality plus the offensiveness of the lady's outfit are the reasons why my overall oppinion is Neutral.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Ben Page, age 25 (USA)


Comments from young people
Positive— I went to see this movie with a group of friends of mine and my family. My personal opinion about this movie was that it was very good. There was nothing offensive and it was very enjoyable. I did not end up bored half way through the movie. I have not read the book Journey to the Center of the Earth, but everything was understandable. To me personally, I did not hear any swearing in the movie. In the end, this movie was a great movie and was worth seeing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Caleb, age 13
Positive—This film was totally clean and you can't complain when Hollywood makes a clean film. It was really cool how it was in 3D. It also got you to jump at certain parts when your not expecting it. Overall, it was just good clean fun. No profanity of any sort. It is great movie to go see as a family, you'll really enjoy it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Tommie, age 15
Neutral—This movie was good, but didn't have much of a plot, if you really think about it. See, (SPOILER WARNING *sorta*) it's not actually based off of the brilliant book written by Jules Verne. It's about a man who's brother believes it was true and sets off to find the center of the Earth. It was rather twisted, but in a good way. They used the book as a sort of… guide. Anywho, the plot's above so I won't say much on that note.

The overall moral rating was great! Hardly any swearing. In fact, I didn't notice any. Just an occasional “oh my g_d” and a few references to evolution. But it was great otherwise! They hired the right actors and it was very much not like the terrible material Hollywood is producing now such as “Sex and the City.” It was great and something a family can watch without feeling awkward. Although, there is a point in the movie when the boy and the boy's uncle both “claim” the field guide (who is an, evidently, attractive woman), but she rightfully stands up for herself saying no way to that! There's also a kiss at the end. But, big whoop! There HAS to be a little romance in everything now days, hasn't there?

I totally recommend it! It's just a tad bit intense what with a giant dinosaur and man eating fish. Haha.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Emily, age 13
Positive—I saw this movie at the drive-in after seeing Wall,e. I thought it was completely clean for any christian families. No bad language. No crude humor. Not offensive biblically. Just a clean family adventure. But in my opinion it wasn't good. The animation was horrible. It was too short. And it had a pathetic ending. Everybody in my family besides me fell asleep. Either because they were too tired because it was the second feature. Or because they were bored. Or both. But don't let me hold you back from seeing it just because I didn't like it. It was a good movie for christian kids and families and I completely recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Zac P., age 13
Positive—This movie was clean, nothing objectionable. The graphics were incredible and, even though we didn't get to see it in 3D, things still jumped out at me. I highly recommend this movie for all… although very young children may be scared at some of the effects.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jesse O, age 12
Positive—I went to see this movie with my dad when my sister was at zoo camp with my mom. we did reviews and said that it was a cheesy movie. but, my dad knew that I wanted to see it so we went. we wanted to go see it at a theater that wasn't showing it in 3D. but all of them were. so we went to see it.

WOW!!!… the movie was just awesome. the 3D was the best 3D movie ever!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Braden, age 11