Journey to the Center of the Earth (Blu-ray) (1959)

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Released 18-Sep-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Isolated Musical Score
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1959
Running Time 129:28
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Henry Levin
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring James Mason
Pat Boone
Arlene Dahl
Diane Baker
Thayer David
Peter Ronson
Robert Adler
Alan Napier
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music Bernard Herrmann


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 4.0 L-C-R-S
English Alternate Audio DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Journey to the Centre of the Earth is a classic adventure story, written by Jules Verne and adapted for cinema and television on a number of occasions. There was a recent 2008 3D film starring Brendan Fraser, which I reviewed here, and this probably better known version from 1959 which we previously reviewed on its DVD release here. This James Mason & Pat Boone version is now getting its Blu-ray debut here in Australia from Shock.

     The story as you probably know concerns a scientist who thinks he has discovered how to get down an extinct volcano to the centre of the earth and mounts an expedition to prove it. The scientist, Sir Oliver Lindenbrook (James Mason), works at Edinburgh University, teaching geology to a seemingly all male student body including his protégé, Alex McKuen (Pat Boone). McKuen gives him an interesting rock made of lava and when they break it open (through an accident) they find that it contains a plumb bob previously owned by a scientist, Arne Saknussem who disappeared investigating similar theories in his native Iceland. Lindenbrook writes of his theories to an eminent scientist in the field, Prof Goteborg of Stockholm. When he doesn't receive a reply, he realises that Goteborg is attempting to reach Iceland before him and immediately sets of on a mission of his own. Through various above ground intrigues, Goteborg winds up dead and Lindenbrook must do a deal with his widow, Carla (Arlene Dahl). This involves the expedition getting well kitted out but also adding three extra members beyond Lindenbrook and McKuen; Carla Goteborg, an Icelandic giant, Hans (Peter Ronson) and his duck, Gertrude. Little do they know that they are also being followed by an ancestor of Saknussem, the current Count Saknussem (Thayer David) who has plans of his own. Will they reach the centre of the earth or die in the attempt? Will Sir Oliver stop being an old curmudgeon? Will the villain get away with his cunning plan? Will someone need to eat the duck?

     This is a fun old style adventure yarn for the whole family. The film was a significant technical achievement at the time of its release, garnering three technical Oscar Nominations for Art Direction, Special Effects & Sound. Obviously by today's standards the special effects look pretty lame but they still hold the interest and provide enjoyable entertainment for kids. Mason is suitably grumpy and Boone suitably swoony when he gets his shirt off and starts singing. Supposedly Mason found Arlene Dahl's diva tendencies quite annoying which led to them not really getting on on set. The widescreen cinematography and colours look great on this new Blu-ray version and the wonderful score by Bernard Hermann is heard in all its glory. My main criticism of this film would be that there is a bit too much carry on before they actually set off for the centre of the earth, with nearly 45 minutes before the journey kicks off for real. Once they get going though the film moves along at a cracking pace. The film does feature the obligatory sexism and racism of the period.

     Lots of fun for the whole family.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video quality is excellent for a film of this age.

     The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 1080p HD encoded using the AVC codec.

     The detail and clarity is really good for a film of this age with excellent clarity in nearly all scenes except for a couple around the underground sea which are more grainy than the rest. These are around 98:01.

     The colour is really good for a film of this age and some scenes really jump off the screen.

     In artefact terms, there are only a few white spots beyond the grain mentioned above.

     There are no subtitles available.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio quality is very good.

     This disc contains an English soundtrack in DTS HD-MA 4.0 L-C-R-S plus an isolated score track. The audio sounds great for a film of this age with quite a lot of atmosphere and effects in the surrounds and the score sounding great. The only drawback would be that things can be a little boomy at times.

     Dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Two extras.

Menu

    The menu includes music.

Trailer (3:20)

    Old fashioned but fun.

Isolated Score

    The wonderful Bernard Hermann score is available on an isolated track.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region A release is basically the same.

Summary

    A classic adventure film from 1959.

    The video quality is great for a film of this age.

    The audio quality is also surprisingly good.

    The extras are minor.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, November 07, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplaySharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationMarantz SR5005
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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