Late last night, a bunch of Wondercon nerds piled into a theater across from Moscone convention center to see a special 30-minute preview of four monster-packed scenes from upcoming 3D epic Journey to the Center of the Earth. Hitting theaters in July, it's the first live action 3D film done using James Cameron's new 3D camera setup. You're going to be seeing a lot of this 3D stuff over the next several years, as Cameron's new film Avatar will use it, as well as Robert "Planet Terror" Rodriguez' new movie. And, dear readers, it looks frakkin good. Read on to find out about the future of your movie-going experiences.
Journey sucks you deep into its zooming roller-coaster sequences (3D allows depth as well as making things stick out at you), throws glowing birds out into the theater to float around your head, and in one memorable moment snaps your face off with a toothy fish that jumps right off screen and into the audience. After about a minute of adjustment, it's easy to forget you've got those dorky-cool 3D glasses on your face (thankfully they fit easily over real glasses) and just get into the film.
You don't get that grody stomach-clenching feeling of old-school 3D like It Came From Outer Space because this stuff is all shot on digital. In past 3D flicks, people reported getting nauseated because their perspective changed so dramatically from shot to shot. But Cameron's digital 3D system lets editors can manipulate the film directly and change the vertical or horizontal slightly to make it easier for your eyes to adjust from shot to shot. So when we went from looking deep into a cave, to having stuff jump out at us, it just felt like looking at the real world, where sometimes things are far away and sometimes things run at you quickly.
But back to the crucial point: This movie is not only fun to look at, but it does not scrimp on the monsters. You've got human-eating 3D venus fly traps the size of your torso, full of scary throbbing vadge stuff, zooming at your head. You've got a HUGE albino dinosaur (duh, center of the Earth, no sun) drooling into your face (this is an effect borrowed from Beowulf, which certainly did not scrimp on the 3D drool). In my favorite scene there were SEA MONSTERS. Yes, an entire stormy sea full of flying, fanged fish being eaten by really, really big sea monsters with long necks, toothy mouths (coming out into the theater), and full chomping action.
I can't tell you how great it was to see a movie whose creators and fans had no illusions about what it was: a super fun eyeful of spectacle. Nobody pretended Journey was great art, or even brilliantly-plotted. As star Brendan Fraser said, "People fall into hole, and try to get out. That's the movie." If you want a stab at human drama with your giant monster, go see Cloverfield. If you want monsters with a political message, go see 28 Days Later. But if you just want to see big huge stuff come flying at your head in a way that makes you jump and laugh out loud, Journey is the flick for you.