Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 7th, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: Spain, 1975
Director: Juan Piquer Simon
Cast: Kenneth More, Jack Taylor, Ivonne Sentis, Pep Munne, Ana Arco, Frank Brana
DVD released: October 31st, 2006
Approximate running time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Code Red
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: While visiting a book store Professor Lindenbrock buys some beat up books from a vagrant. One of the books plot is about journeying to the center of the earth. While reading the book one day Professor Lindenbrock discovers a decoded message which explains when and how it is possible to travel to the center of the Earth. Professor Lindenbrock with his niece Glauben and her fiancé Axel travel to Iceland to begin their journey. Shortly after their arrival they find themselves a guide named Hans who helps navigate the treacherous terrain that lies ahead of them.
Spanish director Juan Piquer Simón is best known for his ultraviolet slasher film Pieces which also happens to feature a performance by Jack Taylor. Who also has a role in The Fabulous Journey to the Center of the Earth. He has also directed some other cult favorites like the killer slugs’ movie Slugs and E.T. clone The Pod People. Juan Piquer Simón is on his best day a competent director on his best day whose films lack any distinctive style. His direction for The Fabulous Journey to the Center of the Earth is some of his best work of his career as he keeps things simple and lets the story to all the talking.
The Fabulous Journey to the Center of the Earth is based loosely on Jules Verne’s 1864 novel ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’. The screenplay retains the meat of Verne’s story which is a good thing since the original novel is perfect and needs no changes. The film has a pulp/serial type feel to it that harkens back to the classic Sci-Fi and action adventure serials of the 1940’s. The cast all give good performances with the stand out one being that of Jack Taylor as Olsen. His performance as Olson is one of his best of his career as he has a knack at playing mysterious brooding characters. The film also features an array of giants including an ape, mushrooms, lizards and turtles. The effects and creatures are reminiscent of Ray Harryhausen’s work on films like Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titan’s.
The film also features a love story between Glauben and Axel that plays out throughout this magical adventure. The plot gets going quickly with the majority of the film spent beneath the surface of the Earth. It is hard to believe that The Fabulous Journey to the Center of the Earth was directed by the person who directed the notoriously violent film Pieces. And yet Juan Piquer Simón’s adaptation of Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ is an often unfairly maligned film that manages to keep things interesting despite its flaws. Overall The Fabulous Journey to the Center of the Earth is action/adventure that can be enjoyed by viewers of all age groups.
Code Red presents Jules Verne’s The Fabulous Journey to the Center of the Earth in an anamorphic widescreen that retains the films original aspect ratio. Colors look faithfully reproduced and rich in texture. Details are strong and sharp. The image remains stable through out. There are no problems with compression or artifacts. Outside of noticeable specs of dirt that pop up through out the transfer is in really good shape.
This release comes with one audio an English audio track presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Dialog is crisp and clear. Music and effects sound evenly balanced. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or any other sound defects. Overall this audio mix sound great for a film that is nearly thirty years old.
Extras for this release include the films original trailer, a brief stills gallery with poster art & press book and the films alternate title sequence for its U.S. release under the title of ‘Where Time Began’. The remaining extras consist of four trailers Voltron, The Great Yokai War, Space Amoeba and Legend of Dinosaurs & Monster Birds. All of these titles are currently available or soon to be released by Media Blasters. Overall Code Red gives Jules Verne’s The Fabulous Journey to the Center of the Earth a solid DVD that makes up for its lack of extras with its audio/video presentation, recommended.