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