ORBzine - Adventure Movies 2008 Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

City of Ember

City of Ember This is set in a city that has not seen the light of day in 200 years. It is peopled by pasty-faced folks like McKenzie Crook ( Pirates of the Caribbean ). African-American actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste is the token non-Caucasian! The infrastructure is failing, there is no manufacturing base to build spare parts, and food supplies are running out. It will not come as too much of a shock for people to learn that it was shot entirely in Belfast!

Lina Mayfleet ( Saoirse Ronan ) and Doon are the teenage protagonists, who discover that there may be an emergency exit from the dying city. The Mayor (Bill Murray - Ghostbusters ) does not want anything to upset his grasp on power, so he tries to stop them. Tim Robbins ( Shawshank Redemption ) pops up briefly as Doon's dad.

Naturally there are a few plot holes, and it does feel as if bits have been left out (it is based on a book) ... but this is a good old-fashioned adventure. If you liked The Goonies , you should like this.

Inkheart (2008)

Inkheart Ironically, the cinematic release of this film included the trailer for Bedtime Stories , a comedy that has a very similar premise. Certain people have magic powers that can bring a fictional story to life ...

Brendan Fraser ( The Mummy ) is an American Bookbinder living with his teenage daughter in Italy. He has the magic power, but refuses to use it ever since his wife ( Sienna Guillory ) disappeared.

Fraser is pursued by formerly fictional Paul Bettany ( Knight's Tale ), a fire-juggler who wants to return to his book where Jennifer Connelly (Bettany's real-life wife) is waiting for him.

Fraser and his daughter hide out with Great Aunt Helen Mirren . Our heroes are pursued by the villainous Capricorn (Andy Serkis - Lord of the Rings ). They must seek out the original author (Jim Broadbent - Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ). It is never explained why so many English people are living in Italy!

This is a mildly entertaining adventure, although it is slightly over-long. Also it may have been over-aimed at the childrens' audience. There is no real sense of jeopardy for the protagonists, so there is no real link with the audience.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007)

National Treasure: Book of Secrets After re-fighting the American revolution in the first film, Ben Frank Gates (Nic Cage - Face/Off ) re-fights the American Civil War with creepy Southerner Ed Harris ( The Abyss ). The result is a cross between Da Vinci Code and a novel by Clive Cussler . It is dumbed-down and childish to an astonishing degree. Not only can they break into Buckingham Palace and the White House with astonishing ease, they can even have a gunfight and car chase in the centre of London (in broad daylight) without the police objecting! It also glosses over the negative side of American history - slavery, Reconstruction and Manifest Destiny.

BFG's sidekick has become a published author, with a book of conspiracy theories. He is in trouble with the IRS, the tax-gathering arm of the US Federal government - the true legacy of Abe Lincoln!

The treasure pre-dates the arrival of Christopher Columbus, so the treasure-hunters have to call on the services of a translator. By strange coincidence, BFG's mother ( Helen Mirren ) is an expert in pre-Colombian languages.

  • National Treasure
  • Centre Of The Earth Movies

    At The Earth's Core (1976)

    At The Earth's Core (1976) This is one of the Amicus adventure films from the 1970s, adapted from the Edwardian pulp novels of Edgar Rice Boroughs. Doug McClure ( Warlords of Atlantis ) and Peter Cushing ( Dracula, Star Wars: ANH ) are a pair of scientists who drill into the Earth's crust. They emerge in a strange land ruled by Dinosaurs and Neanderthals, where humans are enslaved ...

    Doug McClure, as in the other films, leads the slaves in revolt. He even gets the girl ( Caroline Munroe )!

    The film was shot entirely on a sound stage - naturally enough, since there are no filming locations which resemble the Jurassic era in an enormous cavern. The dinosaurs are primitive animatronics rather than Ray Harryhausen -style stop-motion. The results? Certainly by today's standards the SPFX look a bit cheap ...

    Deep Core (2000)

    Deep Core (2000) This is a made-for-TV film no doubt inspired by The Core .

    Craig Sheffer, Bruce McGill, Terry Farrell and Will Wheaton ( Star Trek: TNG ) drill to the Earth's core so they can put nukes there.

    Descent (2005)

    Descent (2005) No, not THE Descent , the one about a group of female cave-divers who encounter albino cannibals. This is a completely different film, which rips off The Core . Yes, the big-budget B-movie has a low-budget copy-cat.

    There is a series of earthquakes and geological disasters. A rogue scientist (Luke Perry - Jeremiah ) argues that it will only get worse until it causes the world to end. US General Michael Dorn ( Star Trek: TNG ) sends Perry and a crew of nerds to the centre of the Earth. Naturally they have personal grudges, to add to the drama.

    Fabulous Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (1976)

    Fabulous Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (1976) The Professor (Sir Kenneth More - ) picks up a hand-written journal in an antiquarian bookstore. The book is the record of an expedition to the centre of the Earth. He takes along his niece and her fiance.

    The expedition enter the Snaefels volcano in Iceland, and descend down the passages towards the centre of the Earth. They discover they are not alone down there. A foreign explorer, possibly a Russian, is also there.

    This may have been made in 1976, but the special effects are from a much earlier era. Instead of Harryhausen-type stop motion, they use the old-fashioned man-in-a-suit method.

    The story goes full circle. The twist is never fully fleshed out, but it is implied that the Russian they rescued later time-travels back to plant the journal in the bookstore. Just like in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey , a time loop is created.

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959)

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959) Professor Lindenbrook (James Mason - ) is a lecturer at a university in Edinburgh, Scotland.

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1989)

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1989) A young woman working as a nanny in England is hired for a position in Hawaii. Unfortunately there is a mix-up at the hotel, and she has to follow a pair of tweenage Yanks who have headed on a trip into a volcanic cave system. They have timed this to coincide with volcanic activity, so there is an inevitable earthquake and cave-in.

    The reluctant explorers discover an underground society that is obsessed with Wanda Saknussemm ( Kathy Ireland ), the first tourist to find her way down there. The locals include Nimrod (Emo Philips - ), the only recognisable male in the whole affair.

    The movie starts with some of the worst dialogue ever concieved, but when they get to the underground society the movie turns into a bottom-tier music video. It really is completely atrocious. There is not even a proper ending, which implies that this was intended to be part of a larger story. Was it a pilot for a TV show that was never picked up? Because if so, the world had a narrow escape.

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1993)

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1993) This is a 1990s version of Jules Verne 's Victorian tale of subterranean exploration. John Neville ( X-Files ) commands a drilling vehicle (with an onboard AI) that discovers an underground world.

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1999)

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1999) This is a 2-part TV mini-series starring Treat Williams ( The Phantom ).

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2008)

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2008) This is a made-for-TV film based on the novel by Jules Verne , produced by Robert Halmi Snr and Jr ( Farscape ), and directed by TJ Scott .

    The story starts in California in the Victorian era. Victoria Pratt hires a scientist (Ricky Shroeder - NYPD Blue) to help find her husband. Dr Shroeder finances his research by bareknuckle boxing, so he is more than happy to take her money. His nephew tags along as the party's scribe, although he could just have stayed home and married Elyse Levesque .

    Our team of American adventurers set off to a Russian mineshaft in Alaska (as opposed to a volcano in Iceland). At the bottom they discover an enormous cavern with a phosphorescent ceiling. The flora is the same as in Alaska (or Canada, where this was probably filmed) but the fauna includes a CGI plesiosaur.

    Of course, our protagonists discover the heroine's lost husband (Peter Fonda - Ghost Rider ). He is god-king to the natives (more American Indian than caveman), but this is a case of The Man Who Would Be King.

  • Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959)
  • Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2009)

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2009) This is the Asylum's cheap and cheerful version of the story. It owes nothing to Jules Verne except the title, which was used because a similar movie came out the same year.

    A US Scientist (Greg Evigan - Tek Wars ) builds a teleportation device, and sends an all-female military recon unit to Germany. Unfortunately they get stuck at the halfway point, in an enormous cavern six hundred kilometres under the Earth's surface. As a result, they have fifty miles of lava between themselves and the Earth's crust. Worse, the cavern has its own eco-system which includes dinosaurs and giant spiders.

    The scientist calls in his ex-girlfriend ( Deedee Pfeiffer ), who has invented an underground tunnelling machine like in The Core . The audience would be better off watching that film, which covers similar ground but is far superior.

    Journey To The Centre Of The Earth 3-D (2008)

    Journey To The Centre Of The Earth 3-D (2008) A scientist (Brendan Fraser - The Mummy ) and his teenage nephew (Josh Hutcherson - Futureman ) follow the path outlined in the books of Jules Verne . They venture down a cave in the crater of Icelandic volcano Snaefells, and eventually find themselves in a vast cavern many miles underground.

    The film was intended to be shown in 3-D, but works very well in standard 2-D as well. It is an enjoyable adventure.

    Brendan Fraser is much better-suited to play the bachelor uncle than the middle-aged father of a 20-something, as he does in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor ! Anita Briem , the mountaineering guide, looks like an Icelandic Kirsten Dunst .

  • Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959)
  • At the Earth's Core
  • Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)

    Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) As in the original movie, the teenager (Josh Hutcherson - Futureman ) follows the path outlined in the books of Jules Verne . This time, instead of his uncle to help him, it is his stepfather (Dwayne Johnson - The Mummy Returns ). The reason for the re-casting is simple: Fraser was loyal to the original film's director, so when the Producers went with a new director they also picked a new star. The Rock was a natural choice - after all, he is Franchise Viagra. GI Joe and Fast and the Furious franchises are both proof of that.

    The teen and his stepdad travel to the island of Pelau in the Pacific ocean. They try to hire a boat to explore a storm-ridden area, but Branscome Richmond ( Tremors: The Series ) refuses to take the chance. Luckily Luis Guzman ( Count of Monte Cristo (2002) ) and his daughter Vanessa Hudgens offer them a ride in the family helicopter.

    The adventurers arrive at the mysterious island. The good news is that they meet up with the teen's grandfather (Michael Caine - The Dark Knight Rises ). The bad news is that thanks to the evolutionary effects of island life, small animals have evolved to giant size. For example, the bees are big enough for humans to ride like pegasuses, although the humming birds are big enough to chase and eat them.

    This is a nice good-hearted adventure romp. The characters all have an obvious motivation, and the one who risks everything to go after the gold only does it because of the best of intentions.

  • Journey to the Centre of the Earth 3-D
  • The Mole People (1956)

    The Mole People (1956) This starts with a man in an office delivering exposition in the form of a lecture. This was sort of a standard thing in th 1950s, just as the screen crawl of text became a thing after Star Wars: ANH (1977) .

    A group of archaeologists discover an ancient Sumerian site at the base of an extinct volcano. They climb to the mountain's summit, where they discover a Sumerian temple that has been there for five thousand years. One of the explorers falls down a shaft, so the others have to climb down to save him ...

    The explorers discover an underground civilisation. A colony of Sumerians lives in the caves, continuing their culture unchanged for the last fifty centuries. Luckily the archaeologists speak Ancient Sumerian, so they can converse with the locals. Also, they have a battery-powered torch which the priests regard as a divine object.

    The Sumerians have enslaved a race of non-human cave-dwellers. This is the main point of contention for the explorers, who have 1950s morals. Meanwhile, the priests plot to regain their power and influence.

    The Mummy Franchise

    Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior

    Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior This is a made-for-DVD prequel starring a bunch of unknowns. The protagonist escapes from Egypt, and seeks revenge for the death of his family. To get a magic weapon he must enter the labyrinth and defeat the minotaur.

  • The Mummy
  • The Mummy Returns
  • Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
  • The Scorpion King
  • Scorpion King 5: Book of Souls (2018)

    Scorpion King 5: Book of Souls (2018) The opening narration delivers the necessary exposition. Once upon a time there was a magic sword, the Fang of Anubis. A cruel warlord (Peter Mensah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ) wants it, so he sends his minions out to get it.

    A former warlord, the last Akkadian (Zach Magowan - Black Sails ), is sucked into the quest. He must find the mythical Book of Souls before the villains can.

    Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

    Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor This is a standard blockbuster sequel in a franchise we all thought was dead. Stephen Somers , the original creator, has been relegated to the job of Executive Producer. Rob Cohen , regarded by many as a hack director for hire, is in the big chair and Gough & Millar ( Smallville ) are responsible for the script. And the result? Better than this reviewer expected. It is certainly better than the biggest disappointment of the decade, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull !

    The film starts out with a flashback to ancient China. Yes, it is a typical Hollywood bastardisation of Chinese culture, but to be fair it is also quite reminiscent of the Chinese blockbuster Hero . The greedy Emperor (Jet Li - The Expendables ) hires a powerful witch ( Michelle Yeoh ) to give him immortality. She is smart enough not to trust him, and he ends up mummified.

    Thousands of years later, the story takes up in 1946. Rick (Brendan Fraser - Journey to the Centre of the Earth ) has apparently aged a decade since the last movie, though the actor is only a few years older. Edie is now Maria Bello , a completely different actress! The pair have retired to a life of boredom, and take the first opportunity to visit Shanghai. Edie's brother (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ) owns a nightclub there, and her son by Rick is now a twenty-something archaeologist excavating the Dragon Emperor's tomb!

    Luckily for the plot, at least two of these coincidences are explained by the fact that the ChiComs are plotting to revive the Emperor. And once he is out and about, the heroes have to stop him from gaining immortality. The climax, as glimpsed in the trailer, involves two undead armies fighting each other. This much CGI has not been seen since the Star Wars prequels, but in this film it actually looks good!

  • The Mummy
  • The Mummy Returns