S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
Journey to the Center of the Earth [Blu-ray]
(Henry Levin, 1959)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Video:Shock Entertainment (Australia)
Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 40,747,428,801 bytes
Feature Size: 39,568,926,720 bytes
Video Bitrate: 33.98 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: July 24th, 2012
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2522 kbps 4.0 / 48 kHz / 2522 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 4.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio 1991 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1991 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
• Trailer (3:41)
Description: There was neither a heroine nor a villain in Jules Verne's 1864 novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, but scenarist Charles Brackett evidently knew what he was doing by adding both to the 1959 film version. The picture proved to be a significant success in an otherwise disappointing year for 20th Century Fox. James Mason stars as amusingly absent-minded professor Oliver Lindenbrook, whose first step on a fabulous journey is prompted by a lump of lava brought to him by his student Alec McEwen (Pat Boone -- and, yes, he gets to sing). Melting down the curiously composed lump, Lindenbrook discovers a hastily scrawled message from long-lost explorer Arne Saknussem, with directions for reaching the earth's core. Accompanied by Carla (Arlene Dahl), widow of a famed geologist, and Icelandic guide Hans (Peter Ronson), Lindenbrook and Alec head down, down below. They are closely followed by the villainous Count Saknussem (Thayer David), descendant of the lost explorer who wrote the directions; the count hopes to use Lindenbrook's discoveries for his own personal and political gain (we know he's really bad when he eats Han's lovable pet goose). What follows is a festival of superb special effects, fabulous subterranean sets, and gigantized reptiles posing as dinosaurs, all brilliantly accompanied by Bernard Herrmann's ominous musical score. Journey to the Center of the Earth would later be adapted into a Saturday-morning cartoon series, again produced by 20th Century Fox.
Pat Boone gives this colourful, exciting story its few nauseating moments (as when he sings 'My Heart's in the Highlands'). Otherwise it's one of the very best Hollywood adventure movies, with lots of monsters, underground oceans, sinister villains, and touches which would have delighted Jules Verne himself. James Mason as usual carries his part superbly, and there are plenty of good supporting actors like Napier and Ronson. Some of the special effects are intriguing, and believe it or not there's also quite a bit of effective sexual symbolism in typical Hollywood style, which greatly enhances the syrupy romantic subplot. Watch for the ending in which the girl is blown up on a giant funnel, with close-ups of her on her back smiling orgastically.Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE
The spelunkers (cave tourists) on this journey are a Scottish geologist,
his prize student, the widow of a rival, an Icelandic peasant and a
seeing-eye duck. And their journey into the interior (of the earth, that
is) becomes a series of lurid adventures that keep them all on
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
1959's Journey to the Center of the Earth come to Blu-ray from Twilight Time in an edition limited to 3,000 units and has since gone out-of-print. I wish I owned it to compare to this, Region FREE, Australian Shock Entertainment Blu-ray transfer. Technically, this seems sound - dual-layered with a very high bitrate. It is also 1080P. The visuals themselves are decent but not stellar - but I recall the DVD not being very striking either. Colors show some richness and contrast is acceptable. There are some heavy textures. I see wide faces ('Cinemascope mumps'). There is a smidgeon of depth in the 2.35:1 frame. It has a few speckles but no flagrant damage and looks very reasonable in-motion. I don't know if this Blu-ray looks exactly like the theatrical presentation, nor if it is the same or better than the Twilight Time, but the high-resolution appearance on my system was fairly strong - advancing handily beyond the old DVD.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Nice to hear that the Westrex 4-track has been maintained with an uncompressed DTS-HD Master 4.0 channel audio track for the feature at 2522 kbps. It sounds quite good with Bernard Herrmann's brooding score gaining most of the benefit. The lizard-monster guttural growls still leave something to be desired but are exported with depth. There are no optional subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as, surprisingly, being a region FREE.
Only and isolated score (lossless 2.0 channel stereo) and a 3.5 minute trailer. I'd have liked more but a commentary for this long-ish film on Blu-ray might be asking too much.
May 27th, 2014
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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