Professor Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) goes off with his young nephew (Josh Hutcherson) to see if they can locate Josh's father, who has been missing since he went under the earth for an investigation into seismic activity. They team up with a young lady guide named Hannah (Anita Briem). The premise of the film is that Jules Verne's novel was factual, and Trevor uses the text as a guideline to descend into the depths. This is not very convincing, of course, but it fits the tone of the movie, which is nice but too "cutesy" by far. There is no suspense or epic quality, and even that black and white cheapie Unknown World had more atmosphere. However, there are some exciting sequences and fine special effects in the movie: a thrilling ride on a runaway mining car; bio-luminescent birds like fire flies that flit around the cast; flying fish with big, nasty choppers; humongous sea monsters; a sequence with floating rocks over a deep chasm. A T-rex shows up at one point but it's only serviceable. The score is forgettable (a fry cry from Bernard Herrmann's wonderful music for the 1959 version) and there's very little directorial panache -- it's all left up to the FX people. Despite some of the silliness of the 1959 version, this is much more of a kiddie movie. The actors are fine; young Hutcherson is especially good.
Verdict: Watchable but the 1959 version is better. **1/2.