Friday, January 23, 2009

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Wait, haven't I already reviewed this movie? No, not this one, this one is the most excellent 1959 version directed by the incomparable Henry Levin (go see The Lonely Man) and starring an oddly attractive Pat Boone, Arlene Dahl and the always fantastic James Mason. In the spirit of full disclosure I should start off by saying that I love this movie and have since I was a kid and enjoy every movie I've ever seen with James Mason in it. Also, my daughter and I love this story and are sort of geeks about it. We've seen numerous versions and even own some rare versions of it (like a badly dubbed Dutch animated version from the 60's). In other words, it's hardly going to be an impartial review. Journey is about a scientist whose successful but whose wanderlust is never satisfied. His nephew discovers that it's not satisfied largely because his uncle is getting older and has never gone after his most true obsession, determining whether or not there is life at the center of the earth. So, they decide to head off to the center of the earth and answer the question once and for all. And so the action and adventure ensues. For any kid who loves adventure movies, this must be a classic. Dangerous rock climbing, fights, weird underground people, giant bugs and lizards, dinosaurs, underground oceans, diamonds, it has it all. It's like the 1950's version of The Goonies. Plus with a G rating, this movie plays more like live-action Disney movie than other Levin pics and, as a parent, I appreciate it. The dialogue is dated and the special effects are pretty campy, but it's all good fun and adventure. If you or your kids like movies like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and In Search of the Castaways, you're gonna like this one. There are many film versions of this Jules Verne story, but this one is the grandaddy of them all and if you haven't seen it, you should.


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