Journey to the Centre of the Earth-3D (Blu-ray) (2008)

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Released 2-Apr-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Audio Commentary
Featurette-x3
3D Glasses
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 92:34
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Eric Brevig
Studio
Distributor
Walden Media
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Brendan Fraser
Josh Hutcherson
Anita Briem
Seth Meyers
Jean Michel Paré
Jane Wheeler
Frank Fontaine
Giancarlo Caltabiano
Kaniehtiio Horn
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Andrew Lockington


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Billed as the first full-length, live-action film to be made entirely with the use of digital 3-D equipment, the latest film adaptation of Jules Verne's classic Journey to the Centre of the Earth arrives on our shelves in HD and 3D! But while the technology has certainly improved since the 1950s, Journey falls into the same hole as many 3D films - pure gimmick. Despite being loosely based on a classic novel, the story is a strong as a wet cardboard box . . . and just as enjoyable.

   Trevor Anderson (action-adventure stalwart Brendan Fraser) is a goofy geology professor at an American college who discovers he's about to lose funding for his research laboratory. The lab is dedicated to the memory of Trevor's brother Max (Jean-Michael Pare), also a scientist, who disappeared while researching volcano tubes. Just when Trevor's day couldn't get worse, his sister in law (Max's widow) drops off Trevor's13-year-old obnoxious nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) to stay with Trevor for 10 days while she moves house. Apart from the brat, she also drops off a box of Max's belongings, in which Trevor finds an copy of Verne's novel. Having been strangely annotated by Max, Trevor begins to think this could be the clue to explain the mystery around Max's disappearance in Iceland 10 years earlier. Trevor and Sean hastily fly to Iceland, making plans while onboard. A researcher named Sigurbjorn Asgeirsson is mentioned in Max’s notes, so the two decide to pick up Max's trail there. But instead of Sigurbjorn, on arrival in Iceland they meet his cold-fish mountaineering daughter, Hannah (Anita Briem), who agrees to guide them up a local volcano where Max disappeared. (As with the 1959 film adaptation, a woman has been added to the story to add a romantic element.) Needless to say, things don't go to plan, and the three find themselves on, well . . . a journey to the centre of the Earth.

    Along with HG Wells, French author Jules Verne is commonly accepted as one of the founders of the science fiction genre as we know it today. His many works, written during the 1800s, have been translated into many languages and re-printed countless times. Verne is best remembered for A Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864), From the Earth to the Moon (1865), 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869–1870), and Around the World in 80 Days (1873). All of which were also to become the basis for memorable film adaptations as well.

    However, despite being loosely based on Verne's classic novel, Journey falls into the same hole as many 3D films - pure gimmick. For a 3D film to be truly enjoyable, it cannot rely on its gimmick alone. For example, the recent 3D animated films such as The Polar Express, Beowulf, and Monster House can all stand up to repeated viewings in 2D. The 3D element merely enhanced the theatrical presentation, and did not distract from the story. But Journey falls into the same hole as many of the stinkers from the 1980s 3D revival, such as Friday the 13th Part 3-D, Jaws 3-D, and Amityville 3-D. Indeed, I still vividly remember catching the bus home having spent my pocket money watching  Jaws 3-D feeling completely ripped off. In a similar vein, while not as bad, as a film Journey is still a lost opportunity. It reminds me more of a 3D film from a theme park, rather than a feature-length theatrical film. Here, characters and plot are ignored in favour of 3D 'comin' at ya' gimmicks.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Interestingly, film adaptations of Jules Verne's work is often associated with technological advancements in film-making. Consider, for example the 1902 silent film, A Trip to the Moon, which featured ground-breaking special effects, and is credited as being the first science fiction film; or more recently, that the previous big-budget Journey to the Centre of the Earth was released in Cinemascope, as was 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, while Around The World In 80 Days was produced in Todd-AO. The most recent big budget Journey to the Centre of the Earth arrived in cinemas utilizing the RealD digital projection system, with plastic polarized glasses which are a great step forward from the 1950's red-and-green paper glasses. Indeed, I was blown away when I originally saw Beowulf theatrically projected in digital 3D. All the blurred images, dark scenes, and washed-out images that I associate with 3D films were replaced with clear images that seemed to have genuine depth.

    Unfortunately, this home 3D presentation is not a RealD version of the film. Journey to the Centre of the Earth arrives on two Blu-ray discs, offering a standard 2D version on one, and a traditional anaglyph red/blue 3D version on the other. Both are presented with a high definition transfer, having been authored in 1920 x 1080p, and both have been encoded using VC-1 compression, and are presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, in a native 16x9 frame. This is the film's original theatrical ratio.

    As the 3D version of the film is watched through red/blue glasses, it's hard to provide the traditional video review of the 3D transfer. The sharpness of the image is quite good in the mid-range, but I found extremely close or far objects to be blurry. Wearing the red/blue glasses seems to be like wearing sun-glasses at times, and I found the film quite dark in many parts. Admittedly, boosting the brightness of the screen helped combat this problem. That noted, the colours often appeared washed out and subdued once viewed through these two-colour filters. The 2D version has no problems with its transfer, except it ironically appears too bright in comparison!

    English subtitles are present, and are accurate to the spoken word.

    Both discs are BD-50 (50 GB) Blu-ray discs, with the. The feature is divided into 21 chapters.

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

Audio

    This Blu-ray only offers two English audio options for the feature: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, encoded at 640 kbps, and an Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 kbps.

    Although there are some obvious moments of ADR, the dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent.

    The musical score is credited to Andrew Lockington but I never really noticed it.

    The film has a wonderful sound design and the rear speakers are used very effectively in providing ambient sounds. Apart from these moments of subtlety, there is also extensive use of rear directional effects and panning between speakers in providing the directional sound effects for the many theme-park thrills in the centre of the Earth.

    The subwoofer is also utilised very effectively to support the sound effects as required.

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

Extras

    The extras are limited, but presented in high definition.

Floating Pop-Up Menu

    As with other BDs, the menu can be accessed while the film is playing.

Audio Commentary

    Director Eric Brevig and actor Brendan Fraser provide a screen-specific commentary which is fairly chatty and lightweight, in which they point out some of the Canadian locations, and actors, and provide some anecdotes from filming.

Featurette - A World Within a World (10:09)

    Narrated by Anita Briem, this is a short but interesting documentary on the pop-culture history of the hollow Earth idea.

Featurette - Being Josh (6:00)

    We follow Josh Hutcherson around for "a day on set" during the film's production.

Featurette - How to Make Dinosaur Drool (2:47)

    A quick look behind-the-scenes of the scene where the dinosaur drools on Josh.

3D Glasses

    Four sets of anaglyph red/blue 3D glasses are provided inside the Blu-ray case.

R4 vs R1

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

    Our Blu-ray has the same content and specs as the US one (Region A).

Summary

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth is a lightweight, PG-rated film, aimed more at kids than adults.

The video quality is mixed on the 3D version, but good on the 2D version.

The audio quality is excellent.

The extras are limited but in high definition.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Friday, May 01, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic High Definition 50' Plasma (127 cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSamsung Pure Digital 6.1 AV Receiver (HDMI 1.3)
SpeakersSamsung

Other Reviews NONE
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Colours - Tom (read my bio)