Geology professor Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) is about to lose his lab – a smarmy colleague needs more storage space and no-one cares about boring old plate tectonics anyway – and gain an unwanted houseguest: His nephew, surly, 13-year-old Sean (Josh Hutcherson). Sean is the son of Trevor's older brother, Max, who vanished ten years earlier in Iceland, where he was trying to find a portal to the center of the Earth. Along with Sean, Trevor's sister-in-law delivers a box full of Max's old stuff, including his closely annotated edition of Verne's novel: Max was a true believer, convinced that Verne's book was reportage, not pioneering science fiction. And curiously enough, certain notations correspond exactly to seismic readings Trevor has been collating – could they be clues to Max's whereabouts? Max heads for Iceland with Sean in tow, and hires comely mountain guide Hannah (Anita Briem) – whose late father was a "Vernian" like Max – to take them to the site where Max vanished. And wouldn't you know, all three fall and land in the very world Verne described, a prehistoric wonderland filled with giant mushrooms, vicious dinosaurs and phosphorescent bluebirds. It's the scientific discovery of the century – the hitch is getting back to the surface to tell the world about it.
Veteran special effects artist-turned-director Eric Brevig's embrace of gimmicky 3D images is so shameless it's charming: The film opens with a scuttling trilobite waggling its feelers into the lens and never misses a subsequent opportunity to throw something audience-ward, including a wayward yo-yo and T Rex spittle -- the only thing missing is a paddle-balling carnival spieler and a melting house of wax. Young children will get a giant-sized kick out of it, and everyone else should take a pass. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh
This dumbed-down spin on Jules Verne's classic adventure tale was devised as a kid-friendly roller-coaster ride, and it delivers the goods. Whether anyone over the age of eight wants the goods is another matter altogether.