Full disclosure: when I first saw Journey to the Center of
the Earth (1959) as a kid on TV, it totally captured my imagination and
enthralled me. It's been a favorite of
ever since, and while I no longer put the film on the pedestal that I
when I was 10, it has aged very well.
The movie is a classic adventure flick that's still fun and has
of wonder about it. Now Twilight Time, a
small niche publisher, has released this favorite of mine on Blu-ray
couldn't be happier. With excellent sound
and a very good picture this is a must-buy disc for fans of classic SF.
When Professor Oliver Lindenbrook (James Mason) is given an
unusually heavy rock by his student Alec McEwan (Pat Boone), he doesn't
that the sample will have a drastic impact on his life.
It's a volcanic rock and the geologist
assumes that there's a denser rock that was engulfed by lava. After his assistant, Paisley (Ben Wright),
errs and causes an accident, it's revealed that the sample contained a
object, a plumb bob, which has strange writing on it.
It's soon revealed to be an item belonging to
Icelandic explorer Arne Saknussem, who disappeared 300 years ago
looking for a
passage to the center of the Earth. It
appears that Saknussem found one, and Lindenbrook and McEwan set off
Iceland to rediscover the path.
Once in Iceland Lindenbrook has to contend with a rival
explorer, a lack of supplies, and being locked in a basement by an
assailant. In the course of overcoming
these obstacles he meets the tall and strong Hans Bjelke (Peter
his pet duck Gertrude, who agrees to accompany the group on their quest. In order to obtain the supplies he needs,
Lindenbrook very reluctantly also allows the recently widowed Carla
Dahl) to go with them.
Once they find the entrance to the interior of the Earth,
things get a bit tricky. Following marks
that Saknussem made, the group encounters all sorts of wonderful and
things including glowing rocks, giant mushrooms, perhistoric dionsaurs,
and underground ocean and even
a lost ancient city. In addition to
these hazards they have to contend with a dangerous rival, the
descendant of the
original explorer Saknussem who feels that the passage is his by rights
of inheritance. And once they get to the
center of the Earth,
who will they get back?
While the beginning is a bit on the slow side, the grand
adventure makes up for any plot development in the early part. It's a fun and exciting romp filled with
discoveries and hair-raising predicaments.
The movie works in large part because they did take the time at
to set up the plot but also to get to know the characters.
It's these seemingly little things, like the
addition of Gertrude the duck, that give the adventurers a human side
and make it
easy to connect with them. That's the
big thing the recent remake lacked.
The actors seemed to have a great time making the movie, and
they all did a good job. Pat Boone sings
a couple of songs that don't really get in the way (rather they allow
time to catch their breath) and James Mason (with his wonderful voice)
air of respectability to the whole production.
Once again Twilight
Time has released an impeccable sounding Blu-ray disc.
The DTS-HS Master Audio 4.0 audio is superb,
with a good amount of dynamic range and some nice use made of the
soundstage. The rears were especially used
to effectively with running water and other natural sounds being thrown
the viewer to create an immersive feeling.
The dialog is clean and very clear and the music really comes
The 2.35:1 image is encoded at 1080p with the AVC codex
looks excellent too. Aside from a couple
of dirt spots the print looks impeccable with some very nice solid
colors. The whites are strong without
and the skin tones are realistic. The
level of detail is very good, which is especially evident in the
close-ups. Overall this is an outstanding
Twilight Time doesn't go in for a lot of extras generally,
and this disc is no exception. There's
an isolated music score and the original theatrical trailer.
With its a grand sense of adventure and awe, it's hard not
to like Journey to the Center of the Earth.
It's a great romp with a lot of exciting scenes and imaginative
scenery. Watching this impeccable (both in
sound) Blu-ray from Twilight Time will make you remember what it was
like to be
10 year old again. Highly Recommended.
Note: The screen caps
come from the SD DVD and are not illistrative of the quality of this