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Journey to the Center of the Earth


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Wow. Boxofficemojo shows the budget was $60 million. Wow.

Walden's not so bad off on this one.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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How Journey to the Center of the Earth Got Its Title

Contrary to reports in the LAT and NYT, it was not an unanticipated shortage of 3-D screens that forced Warner Bros. and the producers of Journey of the Center of the Earth to change the film's title, which was supposed to be Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D. . . .

The problem was, Twentieth Century Fox had control of the title Journey to the Center of the Earth and was unwilling to give it up to New Line. By appending "3-D" to the end, New Line could avoid that legal hurdle.

So why did Fox change its mind? It's no secret that digital 3-D is in its infancy: the digital 3-D filmmaking community is small and close-knit. They all know that what affects one 3-D release affects all that follow. Fox has its own very expensive live-action 3-D tentpole coming: James Cameron's Avatar. So Fox has an interest in making sure the 3-D brand isn't sullied in the 18 months before that epic unspools. . . .

David S. Cohen, Thompson on Hollywood, Variety, July 14

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I didn't know MCN's Len Klady did anything other than the site's Weekend Report of box-office figures, but here he is reviewing Journey to the Center of the Earth:

Journey to the Center of the Earth is the first live action feature length film to weigh in to the sweepstakes. If it is any indication of what can be expected in future endeavors then 3-D will once again record an ignominious chapter. Other than some capable visual effects it is an inane, singularly uncompelling action yarn aimed at the family audience. ...

Either the credited screenwriters were under the delusion they were adapting a Dick and Jane primer or the director decided to dumb up the script. Both cases translate into that sinking feeling when dialogue is spoken. There may have been some thought given to keeping the cast members down and viewing the effects as additional characters. It's the sort of notion that makes sense only in development meetings. The absence of a human threat in this instance is crippling and just one of the factors that made the equally liberal adaptation of Journey to the Center of the Earth in 1959 superior. It didn't have 3-D effects but the level of engagement was such that my visual memories of it are keener than those of a 2008 film still wet from the lab.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Funny to hear someone describe a DIGITAL movie as "still wet from the lab". :)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I actually liked this film. Yes - it had many, many special 3-D effects just for the fun of it - which I think should die out as this art-form moves from Jr. High to adulthood - but for me it worked. The human connections also worked. The bonding/adventure/attraction worked (except for a beautiful lady actually living alone in the middle of Iceland) and I appreciated some of the science fiction of it. I am glad they did not find MAX alive, like some kind of Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson (I was afraid of that when I saw the treehouse). That would have been too much - but for me they played the right note.

I also liked the presence of the luminescence birds - like guardian angels watching over their trip. I liked that the creatures were not imaginary, but just beings who were extinct.

Does anyone know how true the experiences are to the original book? I've never read it.

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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  • 2 weeks later...

FWIW, with a 23.7% drop between last weekend's gross and this weekend's gross, Journey to the Center of the Earth had easily the smallest percentage drop of this weekend's Top 20.

I have to cheat slightly to make that statement, since one film -- Tell No One -- actually went UP a tad, a mere 7.2%, because it expanded from 55 theatres to 77 theatres (a 40% increase in theatres, in sharp contrast to the fact that Journey and virtually every other movie in the Top 20 played in LESS theatres this week than last week). But if it went UP, then it's not a DROP in the first place, is it?

And of course, three films opened in the Top 20 this week and thus could not have dropped since last week even if they'd wanted to.

But of the other 15 films in the Top 20, all dropped between 32.2% and 77.4%.

So, Journey would seem to have "legs".

And, with $60.2 million in the till so far -- $9.4 million of which was made in this, its third weekend -- I wonder if it stands a chance of surpassing Charlotte's Web (2006, $83 million) as Walden Media's top-grossing movie (not counting the Narnia films, which are a phenomenon unto themselves).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Journey at the Center of the Earth

Brandon

"God is so great and merciful that he does not require that we name him precisely. God is even willing to be anonymous for a time. Remember how God led the Three Wise Men from the East to Christ? The Wise Men did not know the God of Israel or Jesus. They worshipped the stars. So God used a star to lure them."--The Twelve Steps for Christians

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I know this happens, but not too often. Brendan Fraser had two movies in the top five at the box office this past weekend. Mummy 3 and Journey.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Roger Ebert on why he does not like 3-D:

There is a mistaken belief that 3-D is "realistic." Not at all. In real life we perceive in three dimensions, yes, but we do not perceive parts of our vision dislodging themselves from the rest and leaping at us. Nor do such things, such as arrows, cannonballs or fists, move so slowly that we can perceive them actually in motion. If a cannonball approached that slowly, it would be rolling on the ground.

[ snip ]

Our ancestors on the prehistoric savannah developed an acute alertness to motion, for the excellent reason that anything that moved might want to eat them. Movement perceived against a static background is dominant, a principle all filmmakers know. But what about rapid movement toward the viewer? Yes, we see a car aiming for us. But it advances by growing larger against its background, not by detaching from it. Nor did we evolve to stand still and regard its advance. To survive, we learned instinctively to turn around, leap aside, run away. We didn't just stand there evolving the ability to enjoy a 3-D movie.

[ snip ]

In my review of the 3-D "Journey to the Center of the Earth," I wrote that I wished I had seen it in 2-D: "Since there's that part of me with a certain weakness for movies like this, it's possible I would have liked it more. It would have looked brighter and clearer, and the photography wouldn't have been cluttered up with all the leaping and gnashing of teeth." "Journey" will be released on 2-D on DVD, and I am actually planning to watch it that way, to see the movie inside the distracting technique. I expect to feel considerably more affection for it.

I agree that the stuff leaping at the camera is a bit annoying, but what really impressed ME about the effect, as used in this film, was the way it was used sometimes to create vast open spaces. As I said in my review, "As Trevor, Sean and Hannah hike up an Icelandic volcano near the beginning of the film, we can see the other mountains and the landscape stretch for miles around them, and it's almost enough to make you wonder what an epic, scenic film like, say, Lawrence of Arabia could have looked like if it had been produced in 3D."

My mother-in-law recently gave us an old View-Master and a bunch of old View-Master discs. The discs are falling apart, alas, but it's fun to revisit the stereoscopic toys of my youth, and to share them with my own kids; and I wonder what Ebert has made of THAT. Is 3-D always a bad idea? Or only when it is used in a motion picture?

FWIW, I posted a couple items at my blog last night that touch on this film. One, it is one of only four movies so far this year that have incontestably grossed four times their opening weekend; and two, the success of this film may explain why the newest Real-D movie Fly Me to the Moon has had a hard time finding theatres in which to open.

Oh, and yes, this is now definitely Walden Media's biggest movie ever, except for the two Narnia movies of course.

Who wants to bet that this movie will end up with more money than The Mummy 3 when all is said and done? Domestically, at any rate. The Mummy 3 has been raking it in overseas -- not surprising, given that it's set in China and all.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Now that I have a family of my own, I thought I might be settling for middling junk like "Journey" and "The Mummy," but no, I don't plan on watching them again, with or without my kids. The stuff that people -- families, presumably, although I don't know for sure that it's the family audience that's driving the grosses of these films -- will pay to see continues to surprise me.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Roger Ebert on why he does not like 3-D: "There is a mistaken belief that 3-D is "realistic." Not at all. In real life we perceive in three dimensions, yes, but we do not perceive parts of our vision dislodging themselves from the rest and leaping at us. Nor do such things, such as arrows, cannonballs or fists, move so slowly that we can perceive them actually in motion. If a cannonball approached that slowly, it would be rolling on the ground."

This kind of critique is a purist view - that all films have to be a "pure form" and in this instance a 2-D. I agree that 3-D is still trying to figure itself out, but to say that it has to be the same as our actual 3-D experience misses the opportunities that it can give us to emphasize certain things over others - like the use of focus in a scene. Just because this film doesn't do it well yet doesn't mean that we throw out the whole technique.

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: The point of 3D is *not* to simulate reality. . . .

: This line of inquiry also assumes a cinema verite basis for 3D, which is ridiculous IMHO. Has there been a serious, successful art film that has used 3D for artistic effect? Is there a common understanding of how mis-en-scene applies in 3D? For that matter, is there respected film theory for 3D (i.e. has anyone here taken a film theory class that seriously discussed how to apply film theory to 3D)?

I certainly haven't, but now I'd like to. I wonder what Bazin would have said about this particular form of "realistic" cinematography. :)

Side note: Ebert mentions above that Journey is coming out on DVD in 2-D. Is it coming out in 3-D as well? Since the Real-D projectors are digital, and since home entertainment systems are increasingly high-def and all that, I am wondering if we would increasingly see Real-D movies being released on home video in a format that is virtually identical to what gets played in theatres. It would probably be a much smoother transition than what we got in the old days, where a movie was projected on a filmstrip in the theatres and then, maybe, released in 3-D on VHS.

Has anybody talked about taking some of the old 3-D movies and digitizing them for the Real-D process? I am thinking, for example, of Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder, which, if memory serves, was produced in the early 1950s but was not released in 3-D until the early 1980s; the 3-D fad of the '50s flared up and died out so fast that, by the time Hitchcock was finished editing the film, he didn't think there was any point in releasing it in 3-D, so he simply released it in 2-D instead; but then 3-D became a fad all over again in the '80s, especially with the rash of horror-movie threequels that came out around then (Jaws 3-D, Friday the 13th Part 3-D, Amityville 3-D), and so Universal (or whichever studio) re-issued Dial M for Murder, this time releasing it in the 3-D format that it had been meant to have all along.

Anyway, I mention Hitchcock because he, at least, has had a lot of critical attention over the years, so he represents perhaps the most obvious nexus between the arthouse and the sort of commercial environment in which 3-D thrives.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 3 weeks later...

While I did see the 1959 version before reviewing the new film, I somehow neglected to watch THIS adaptation:

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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