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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
to tell Filthy Something?