Brendan Fraser joins 3-D "Center of the Earth"

March 13, 2008 5:53:42 PM PDT
Brendan Fraser is looking to unearth another blockbuster with this summer's third installment of his "The Mummy" franchise. But first, he's digging a bit deeper underground with "Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D," a take on the Jules Verne science fiction classic updated with the latest in digital three-dimensional film technology.

The result is a thrill ride that has Fraser and his co-stars fighting carnivorous fish, sailing across an underground ocean, tearing down old mining rails like a roller-coaster ride and racing from a hungry dinosaur - with the 3-D images floating off the screen and dangling right before viewers' eyes.

"I think it has the right combination of, when it's appropriate, treating the audience to coming-at-you, boo scares, but also taking advantage of the depth of field that was never really taken advantage of to my recollection in other 3-D films," Fraser, 39, said in an interview before a screening of the movie Wednesday at ShoWest, a convention of theater owners.

"Those were normally about images jumping off the screen. With `Journey 3-D,' you can almost see the curvature, the ocean seems to curve a bit, and you want to look up around the corners of things.

You want to know what's behind it. You actually almost find yourself wanting to twist your head to look at something that went past you to see the other side of it."

Using cameras leased from "Titanic" filmmaker James Cameron, who is using the same system for his upcoming 3-D sci-fi adventure "Avatar," "Journey to the Center of the Earth" is one of a wave of digital 3-D movies hitting theaters in the next couple of years.

Audiences must wear special glasses, but they are sturdy, comfortable lenses, unlike the flimsy cardboard red-and-blue glasses for old-style 3-D movies, whose images could be fuzzy and strain viewers' eyes.

Digital 3-D movies such as "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and the recent hit "Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert" provide crisp images that put audiences in the thick of the action.

"I wanted it to be like the best day in an amusement park you've ever had," said "Journey 3-D" director Eric Brevig.

"It's like ride after ride, and they're all fun."

"Journey 3-D" debuts July 11, three weeks before "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," the third installment in Fraser's franchise about an archaeologist battling resurrected corpses.

In "Journey 3-D," Fraser plays a scientist traveling in the footsteps of his missing brother, who discovered a path thousands of miles into the planet's interior.

The story, which has many nods and winks to Verne's book and its past Hollywood adaptations, can stand on its own but is greatly enhanced by the 3-D imagery, Fraser said.

"It adds a level of hyper-reality," Fraser said. "To see it play with audiences full of little kids reaching out in the air to try and grab a floating pocket knife is just hilarious. And hey, there's an albino dinosaur. Did you know there's an albino dinosaur at the center of the earth? I did not know that."