Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2008)


Rating 1

Directed by Eric Brevig

Written by Michael Weiss, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin, based on the novel by Jules Verne

Starring Brendon Fraser (Trevor Anderson), Josh Hutcherson (Sean Anderson), Anita Briem (Hannah Ásgeirsson), Jane Wheeler (Elizabeth Anderson), Seth Meyers (Alan Kitzens), Giancarlo Caltabiano (Leonard) and Jean Michel Paré (Max Anderson)

Professor Trevor Anderson, a volcanologist, teaches uninterested students at a Boston university. He learns that funding for his research has been stopped and then remembers at the last minute that his sister Elizabeth is bringing his 13-year-old nephew Sean to stay. Trevor last saw Sean, the son of his brother Max, who disappeared ten years previously, when he was seven. At first, Sean shows no interest in staying with his uncle, but when a box of old possessions belonging to his father reveals a dog-eared copy of ‘A Journey to the Centre of the Earth’, with hand-scribbled notes in the margin that leads Trevor to rush back to his laboratory, they soon find themselves on a flight to Iceland. Hannah Ásgeirsson, a mountain guide, whose late father was a volcanologist who had worked with Max, acts as their guide, but a storm traps them in a cave and from there they find themselves heading to the centre of the earth, where they discover that the wild theories of Trevor’s brother and Hannah’s father were true and that the novel by Jules Verne was a scientific journal disguised as a work of fiction.


The celebrated novel by the French author Jules Verne, ‘A Journey to the Centre of the Earth’, was first published in 1864. It was the third of 54 novels published during his lifetime, spanning a period of 42 years between 1863 and 1905. Verne died in 1905 at the age of 77. The first film version of the book was released in 1959 and starred James Mason.

This 2008 version, filmed in 3D, had a production budget of $60 million and grossed a little under $242 million worldwide. It was originally intended to make a sequel, this time based on the legend of Atlantis, but the box office performance of the film was not considered to be sufficient and those plans were subsequently suspended. The film received mixed but generally positive reviews and has a 61% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes from 147 reviews counted.

Brendon Fraser is a likeable and competent actor who has proved himself able to carry an action-adventure story previously in the ‘Mummy’ movies. The Jules Verne story is an early science-fantasy classic. However, I thought this new version was rotten. It was just one long, boring funfair ride from start to finish. The special effects were uninspiring and left me decidedly unimpressed. There was no particular sense of suspense or excitement. The acting was, at best, adequate. It seems to have been targeted at an audience of pre- and early-teens and on that basis it is probably reasonably successful, but it really could and should have been a whole lot better than this.

Perhaps the only notable thing about the film is that the Icelandic character Hannah Ásgeirsson is played by an Icelandic actress.

Review posted 18 May 2009


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