©2008 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
Every right imaginable is reserved.


This week:
Journey to the Center of the Earth (in 3-D)

Filthy says:
"Two-thirds of a finger for every D."

Friday night was date night, so Mrs. Filthy joined me at the movies. This means a few things: 1) I can't go to the grimy, rundown Olde Town theater by our house, even though it's crawling distance from the Arvada Tavern; 2) since we have to go to a nice theater far away, she has to drive because I don't have a car anymore and I drank a bottle of nail polish remover (man, that stuff feels cool going down); 3) since I'm not driving and because I am currently unemployable, she has to pay. That's what makes date night special.

Mrs. Filthy and I went to see Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3-D at a local mall. With time to kill before it started, we wandered among the creepy goth teens hanging out at Hot Topic and the creepier goth teens loitering outside Spencer Gifts. How goth can you be if you shop at the fucking mall? Plus, I thought Spencer only sold novelties that are hilarious and, yet, lewd and inappropriate to give your boss at Christmas. Do goth kids really go for wind-up penises and naked-lady playing cards? Does that make me a goth?

We ended up spending our pre-movie minutes in the Lego Store. I love that place. If there is one downside to it, it's that there are too many God damn kids in there. Hey, little boys! Go play video games or smoke crack. Legos are for grown-ups. Journey to the Center of the Earth was playing on two screens at the mall megaplex. One was in 3-D, the other in sad, old 2-D. We opted for 3-D, even though it cost an extra three dollars per person, because you gotta splurge on date night.

All I could think during the movie was, Man, those poor suckers watching this in two dimensions have are royally fucked. This movie is a formulaic turd, but it's got a shiny coat of paint if you wear the special glasses. The specs are cool, though. I'm still wearing mine, and I look really fucking smart. Plus, even stuff around my house like the toaster and Mrs. Filthy look vivid and three dimensional now.

Brendan Fraser plays some sort of scientist that specializes in bullshit pseudoscience. His brother, who also pretended to be a scientist, died ten years before. Fraser and his sister-in-law still struggle with the loss. It's so hard for her that she has to drop Fraser's now-teen nephew (Josh Hutcherson) off with him for a week. That's exactlly when some of his bullshit pseudoscience hits paydirt. A seismic sensor planted somewhere in Iceland goes nutso and he concludes this is some sort of sign from his borhter, and it somehow ties into Jules Verne's novel.

See, Iceland is where Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth took place. Back around the turn to the 20th century, Verne wrote a story about an explorer/scientist who ventures down lava tubes to reach the center of the Earth. It's a powerfully boring book. Seriously. There's so much mumbo-jumbo and detail that the few good scenes get lost.

This movie doesn't exactly follow the plot of the book. Hell, it doesn't even mention poor Jules on the poster. Instead, the flick takes what it probably thinks is a hip, modern (and post-modern) twist on it. Fraser and his dead brother were both huge Verne fans, and believed his book was more fact than fiction. With nephew in tow, Fraser heads for the wilds of Iceland and plans to see if he can find his way down into the Earth core.

Once there, the two men meet a hot mountain guide whose father was also really into Jules Verne. Her name is Bjork Sigur Ros. The three ostensibly are headed up to look at this sensor, but theyend up way down deep under the planet's mantle.

The movie follows Verne's text at arm's distance. There are giant, goofy mushrooms, dinosaurs, vicious fish and prehistoric oceanic reptiles, a giant sea, magnificent waterfalls and the ruins of Verne's hero's cave. Oh, and the bones of Fraser's brother and Hutcherson's father, too. Let's pause and mourn for two minutes. Okay, time for the giant venus fly traps, now.

The rest of the movie is a mix of Hollywood formula bullshit and cheesy 3-D. Hutcherson is a moody little prick, but the adventure helps him bond with his estranged uncle, and naturally turns a boy into a man. Fraser and Ms. Sigur Ros fall in love, of course. There is bad dialog about people never really knowing their fathers, and shouting that they will help each other during tight moments. But the tight moments are so generic that I can't figure out why it took three--hell, one--screenwriter. Run away from a dinosaur and escape using some piece of minutiae introduced earlier; a bird whose scientific name I believe is deus ex machina befriends the boy and leads him to safety; the notes of the dead father (and not Barthelme's dead father) help them escape. Whenever the moviemakers couldn't think how to get a character out of a situation, they just skip to the next scene when he's safe and moving on. Hutcherson gets dragged off a boat in the middle of the underground sea holding nothing but a sail. Next we see him, he's waking up on the shore. A totally unnecessary runaway mine car scene ends so implausibly in so many ways it felt like the Harelip explaining that the white shiny powder on her face when she comes out of the bathroom is just a skin condition. And the final scene, where the stars shoot to the surface inside the upper jaw of a T-Rex on the crest of a geyser is silly. I think it's supposed to be, but that leaves me with this question: if the writers and director get to make up stupid shit like this whenever they want, why are we supposed to worry about what happens?

To its credit, Journey to the Center of the Earth is 93 minutes. Still, the middle is as slack as the jaws in Arvada High's advanced trigonometry class. We're stuck watching boring characters marvel at stuff that isn't all that marvelous or special. It also missed its best opportunity to be great: Fraser, Ros and Hutcherson have to escape before the earth heats up so much it melts their faces. I thought the hot chick would have to keep stripping off layers of clothes as the surroundings got warmer. Eventually, in just a bra and panties, she should have said, "It is just too hot, I must take off my last skimpy bits of clothes... But oh no, now I am naked. And when I am naked I get to aroused I must play with myself."

That little scene would have made this movie a hell of a lot better.

3-D is a novelty, sure, but it's sort of lame that it's use here is so unnatural and forced. There is a runaway mine cart sequence that goes on a long time and only exists to show off the gimmick. In one scene a measuring tape gets shoved at the audience, in another someone blows the dander off a dandelion. Plastic balls get spilled, raindrops fall, dinosaur drool spills, and so on. It's cornball in 3-D, and probably just sad and confusing for the suckers who pay for 2-D.

Skip Jounrey to the Center of the Earth unless you still think fondly of The Treasure of the Four Crowns, and you can see it in 3-D. Yes, the special effects are corny, but without them, all you've got is shit. And a healthy shit always has corn. Two Fingers.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Peter Travers of the so uncool Rolling Stone

Hancock... "This superhero story comes with some bite... Laden with genuine twists and grounded by three appealing performances...Hancock speaks honestly to the fundamental human fragility that makes the greatest heroes super!"

The Dark Knight... "A thunderbolt is about to rip into the blanket of bland we call summer movies. Feverish action? Check. Dazzling spectacle? Check. Devilish fun? Check. Just hang on for a shock to the system. Every actor brings his A game to the show of the lure of the dark side. The haunting and visionary Dark Knight soars on the wings of untamed imagination."

And Travers, once again, sinks under the muck of a lack of editing. What a dork.

Filthy's Reading
Junot Diaz - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Listening to
Beck - Modern Guilt


The 40-Year-Old Virgin