Journey to the Center of the Earth

[New Line Cinema] Starring Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem. Directed by Eric Brevig. $28.98 (Blu-ray $35.99) ** 1/2



If 3-D really is the future of cinema, as some filmmakers and Hollywood executives think, then consider Journey to the Center of the Earth a harbinger of things to come - and take delight in what it has to offer.

Inspired by Jules Verne's classic 19th-century adventure yarn (technically, it's something of a sequel), this Journey offers Brendan Fraser as Trevor Anderson, a professor who comes upon a book annotated by his explorer brother, who died trying to make his own journey to the Earth's core. Determined to finish what his brother started, Trevor sets off for Iceland, accompanied by his nephew (Josh Hutcherson) and a savvy, tough-as-nails female guide (Icelandic actress Anita Briem).


As an adventure movie, this is pretty much paint-by-numbers stuff: lots of things move fast, a buddy relationship, carefully choreographed gotcha! moments. In theaters, the 3D effects were marvelous, and they're still effective on the small screen. Granted, you have to wear the funny glasses (four pairs are provided) and stare directly at the TV screen. But from the moment a prehistoric trilobite skitters onscreen and wiggles its antennae in your face, it's impossible not to be hooked.

Also in stores:: Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection (Universal Home Video, $119.98): 28 movies, a TV special hosted by Jerry Seinfeld, a couple more documentaries - there's precious little about this 1940s' comedy duo that isn't included here. There are even two versions of the "Who's on First?" routine.

Also out this week:: Disney's most sprightly hero gets her own showcase in Tinker Bell (Walt Disney Video, $29.95, Blu-ray $34.95); Abigail Breslin is Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (New Line Cinema, $28.95, blu-ray $35.95); 24 discs' worth of Fred, Wilma and the Rubbles in The Flintsones: The Complete Series (Turner Home Entertainment, $129.98).

Chris Kaltenbach