There once was a time when people held out the hope that Walden Media would bring a new kind of filmmaking to Hollywood. Created by a Christian billionaire for the express purpose of bringing classic children's books to the big screen, Walden made a point of connecting with educators and promoting literacy in the classroom. But more often than not, the films produced under their banner—including Hoot, The Seeker and Prince Caspian—have strayed from their source material and been mediocre to boot. One of the earliest Walden films in this vein was a bloated remake of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days, a costly flop that starred Jackie Chan and a host of distracting celebrity cameos.
Four years later, Walden has returned to the well and remade another Jules Verne story that was previously adapted for the big screen in the 1950s—and the results this time are not much better, as far as the writing and directing go. But Journey to the Center of the Earth does have one thing going for it, which is that it is being released in 3D in many theatres. The 3D process might be a staple of IMAX presentations and, increasingly, computer-animated cartoons, but it has not yet worn out its welcome in live-action movies released in regular theatres, so there is still something new and exciting about it—even when the movie that uses it is kind of old and stale.
Unlike Around the World in 80 Days, there are very few recognizable movie stars of any sort here: Journey to the Center of the Earth stars Brendan Fraser (The Mummy) as Trevor Anderson, a geologist who thinks he has found evidence of volcanic tubes that go much, much deeper below the surface of the Earth than most scientists believe is possible. The film ...1