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The Asylum’s: Journey to the Center of the Earth: A movie review (not that one)

Submitted by on July 10, 2008 – 9:59 pmNo Comment
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When you watch a stereotypical B-movie your expectations begin at a low point. Compare this then to a Hollywood high budget affair where your expectations are through the roof due to some unnecessary hype. Take Speed Racer for example. You walk into the cinema with high expectations due to the promise of “groundbreaking effects” and the using of the “latest technologies”. It is no wonder you are disappointed. Not so with B-Movies. You expect cack. It’s as simple as that. You expect awful acting, embarrassingly bad dialogue, a star with an eighties haircut and lots of unnecessary (but erotic) moaning from the female characters on screen. You really don’t expect to be entertained. Accepting what you are then, helps this process and self deprecating jokes can be made without fear of lowering the tone.

With this in mind comes the latest movie from The Asylum (a cult lower budget studio, known for producing “mockbusters”). (like most of their “mockbusters”) is a title riff on the upcoming movie Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D. Hold on. Yes, you really have to love when classic stories fall into the public domain. Anyone but anyone can create a story with a similar (or even identical) title to a big budget Hollywood blockbuster. Naturally this will cause problems for those going into a video store and seeing a 2008 version of Jules Verne’s classic tale and immediately assuming that this is ’s film. Well, the joke is on them if they are just too darn lazy to read the cover. The fact is though Fraser’s version (due out in the near future) does not star the man who used to be in “My Two Dads” (Greg Evigan) and ’s sister (). So you get the DVD home and realise that you’ve been had (or at least been a bit stupid). Nevertheless you take the DVD in hand to watch the movie you have paid good money to buy (or rent) and sit down for a very unusual ride.

Now bear in mind that I have yet to completely see Brendan Fraser’s Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D (notice the extra number and letter after the title which promises such “wonderful things”). Everything I know of the movie comes from promotional videos and trailers. Nevertheless it includes big bright butterflies, a mine cart, some Triffid-like Venus fly-traps and a great deal of shouting by Fraser (As “Uncle Trevor”). Oh yeah, it also includes kids. Let’s hear that again: kids! Oh Christ. Not another “family movie”. Why do all bloody family movies have whiny kids who know better than their grown up counterparts.

So we start The Asylum’s Journey (couldn’t be bothered to completely write out the title every time) on a high point with no children in sight. In fact Jules Verne’s classic seems to have been completely thrown in the bin (bar from the title) in favour of a mostly female cast who get teleported to the Center of the Earth and do a lot of erotic moaning. What follows is a rescue mission in a very modern mostly pencil –drawn) drill named D.D. (standing for Deep Digger). Now for those of you incapable of getting the most obvious of in-jokes, D.D. sounds exactly like the designers character Emily Radford’s acting credit (that’s Dedee Pfeiffer for stupid people). In case you don’t get the reference it is repeated several times to drive the point home. Dedee is piloting D.D. Get it? (Oh come on!)

I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here. Firstly we are introduced to a bunch of malnourished women “soldiers” who are going on an unknown mission. Instead of jetting off to Stuttgart (seemingly the most exotic of European locations the writers can think of) and end up in a field. What follows, via a flashback (clever that) is these “soldiers” being chased by stock footage. As they all run for “their lives” you notice how wonderfully conditioned each of these soldier’s hair is. Clearly the military is more of a place where you can get a great head massage (and a nice cut) instead of vigorous training.

After contact is finally made, the main character Joseph Harnet (Greg Evigan) hears over the radio, guns being fired by the women at the dinosaur. His statement at this point made me laugh my backside off. “Does that sound like gunshots to you?” No Mr Evigan. It sounds like a thousand bottles of champagne all being opened at the same time to celebrate the fact that Jurassic life has been discovered. You’d think the screaming (of which these actresses are all very talented at) is a bit of a clue. Nevertheless it is best to check anyway. On he goes to have a chat with a mostly silent Vin Diesel lookalike who is clearly the boss because he spends all of his time in uniform (despite everyone else thinking it’s mufti day). I’m not even sure if he spoke English. It matters not though, because he comes across as a seemingly unhappy man and is surrounded by a geek and a Goth (what the truly scary bosses need in this day and age).

After the encounter with the boss who looks like the actor who (in my opinion) looks like a monkey (Vin Diesel), Mr Evigan goes looking for Ms Pfeiffer (the designer and “pilot” of the drill like device that’s going to save everyone). Dedee seems to be doing the “secretary look” which to me is absolutely fine, and seems to be sporting an eccentric persona with very convincing twitching and ticks throughout the movie. (I have to admit being concerned that this twitching was in fact acted as opposed to genuine. Nevertheless, it was amusing to watch her neurotic character almost continually fighting her flyaway hair and nervously biting her pen). For some reason Pfeiffer felt the need to p.r.o.n.o.u.n.c.e. every single phoneme correctly and deliberately as if she had recently been given elocution lessons. Each word is spoken with vigour. It is as if you are watching a woman doing facial exercises (desperately trying to reduce mouth wrinkles).

So the secretary and one of the dads from my two dads go to try and save the day. Okay I’m now completely sick of the synopsis and will let you fill in the blanks. It seems to me that The Asylum have their target demographic quite sorted as the soldiers consist of a possible angry lesbian, a psycho geek (who is a genius at dinosaurs computers and spiders), a bi-curious captain and a blonde who spends the time whining. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but everything in this film seemed erotic. The all female soldiers who seem to do a “Lara Croft” grunt and moan every time they make a footstep, the loving look all the soldiers give each other, the suggestive look to the waterfall that makes the viewer think everything is just about to get a bit moist. This is wrong! Even the engine of the very clever drill seems to be reminiscent of rudeness. Okay, so it may not be intentional and I may need to get some therapy, (seeing everything rude in inkblots), but take a look and let me know what you think! I can’t be that obsessed surely!

There are obviously some major issues that spoil the experience of the complete B-movie ride. Someone there needs to learn external-shot sound production. There are times when you can’t hear any of the lines being spoken. This, you might say should be a good thing, but I would rather have the pure unadulterated verbal diarrhoea instead of the “broken microphone” effect. Along with the sound issue, comes questions about why there is light coming from the sky (with clouds) when you are deep underground, were the drill-mating magma creatures completely necessary, why is Greg Evigan the only Wolverine hair-styled-masculine male in the movie and who’s idea was it to incorporate an Alien-like parody?

Despite the most obvious criticisms though, the simple fact is that I enjoyed the movie. I laughed (a lot) at some of the effects; sometimes it’s unclear what the actors are scared of. I was amazed (yes. Amazed) at some attention to detail. The Pterodactyl casts a shadow and a reflection on the water as it flies over. This attention to detail was not included in higher budget movies such as The Golden Compass. I cried as Pfeiffer and Evigan spend most of the time bouncing on chairs (to simulate movement of course) to a seemingly erotic rhythm (I need help) which reminded me of Star Trek episodes. I chuckled as Pfeiffer struggled through her over-complicated and unnecessary lines (at one point she visibly seems to despair at the over lengthy dialogue she has been given). I even cheered when the most annoying character met her end.

Remember people. A lower budget movie that can evoke all of these emotions can’t be all that bad. If you were to look up the movie on IMDB you’d notice a comment on the message boards that states “It’s not art, but a lot of fun!” I have to agree with you Dr Spider Man (great user name). It’s never going to win awards but damn, these films are strangely addictive. I am looking forward seeing the next Greg Evigan and Dedee Pfeiffer collaboration. If they just lightened up a little, chemistry may even occur.....maybe.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

(so close to being a great movie. Unfortunately, for a B-movie to be great, it has to be so bad it’s good. This movie actually had some good scenes, so points have been lost. At least it had no whining kids)

Look out for the blooper reel on the DVD. It’s worth the price alone. I don’t think the actors realise how funny they truly are.

Have you experienced this movie yet? Do you expect it to be worse than Brendan Fraser’s movie (with 3D in the title)? Let us know your thoughts.

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