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What's the story?
After a lava rock reveals a secret message, the recently knighted Professor Lindenbrook (James Mason) and his favorite student Alec (Pat Boone) are off to a volcano that supposedly leads to the center of the earth. Much to Lindenbrook's chagrin, he is forced to take along the widow of a recently deceased rival scientist, since she owns some valuable equipment. The journey takes several months and the group is nearly killed when attacked by a descendant of an Icelandic scientist, the source of the original communication. Eventually, hundreds of miles below the earth's surface, the group discovers beasts long thought extinct, as well as the lost city of Atlantis.
Is it any good?
A bit hokey to be sure, but this action/adventure movie has a rip-roaring premise taken from the classic novel by Jules Verne. It has charming characters, especially the overbearing professor who is proven wrong on a regular basis. JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH also boasts diverting action sequences, and a grand, old-fashioned score.
One 13-year-old girl enjoyed the movie, with caveats. She enjoyed the imaginative story, especially the delightful surprises that Jules Verne throws the viewer's way. She also liked the scenery inside the volcano, which was shot on location at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The sometimes-clunky special effects and Pat Boone's smarmy singing impressed her less. The world of late 19th-century Scotland is gloriously realized but the movie's depiction of Iceland -- obviously not shot on location -- is more dubiously represented and a great deal stranger (check out the hats!).
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