In the 90s, the city of Derby played host to the Cinema Fantastique Film Festival; an event which no longer takes place due to lack of finances. This is a crying shame because the festival played host to some truly wonderful slices of world cinema on the big screen. A great Dario Argento double-bill comprising of INFERNO and FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET, along with JULIET OF THE SPIRITS, BRAZIL, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, THE GROTESQUE (a film starring local boy Alan Bates which is still unavailable on DVD), DEATH LINE and CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON were just a few of the films on offer. The latter was presented in 3D, and I can recall ducking oncoming meteors which were amongst the handful of 3D effects in this screening. Until yesterday, this was the only film I'd seen in this format.
Just before our new cinema opened in Derby, a newspaper article ran through exactly what the Cinema De Lux would be capable of, and the ability to screen movies in 3D was one of them. So, my wife and I decided to catch a screening for the new JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH (3D) movie. Directed by Eric Brevig (who makes his feature-length directorial debut here after working on fx for films such as THE ABYSS and MEN IN BLACK), this new adaptation of Jules Verne's novel pitches a professor (Brendan Fraser) his nephew and a local guide into an amazing world hundreds of miles beneath the earth's surface. While Brevig doesn't batter you into submission with 3D effects, there are a lot to contend with, ranging from flying piranhas (an effect that initially had us ducking), a rampant T Rex, flying boulders, man-eating plants, a yo-yo that threatens to have your eye out and Fraser spitting a mouthful of water right into your face. While I didn't find this particular journey to be as enjoyable and enduring as Henry Levin's 1959 film (there's no Count Saknussen following the trail here), the 92 minute running time fair whizzes by with the 3D effects making this a real rollercoaster ride (literally so when we join the intrepid trio on a wild ride through a mine shaft). While I'm sure that future 3D movies will make more of the technology (James Cameron's AVATAR should prove very interesting), this Journey got the job done and got it done quick. Given the family friendly '12' certificate, things were never going to get too heavy but we both found it worth the time and money invested. Look out for the scene involving magnetic rocks and prepare to laugh out loud when one of the trio takes a call on his mobile phone. All good fun!