First off, let me say that I'm VERY glad I saw this movie in 3D. If I hadn't, I might have walked out. The instant strength of this film that comes to mind is the great use of the 3D technology. It has plenty of surprises, and it doesn't over do it at all. HOWEVER, this does not excuse the blatant cheesiness, stupid typical one liners from Brendan Fraser, nor the underutilization of such a fantastic concept.
The story isn't really based on the book by Jules Verne, it's more based on a group's adventure that uses the book as a guide. It's certainly a fantasy adventure that kids will enjoy, but adults may find themselves getting restless by the time the third act reaches us. I also have very strong complaints about the predictability of the film, which was so bad that I could predict what the characters would say, in addition to what was about to happen on screen. That's bad. It's a classic case of flashy visuals, horrid plot execution. It's a wasted concept that could have been a lot better had the film-making branched out from the narrow scope it obviously uses. In fact, I could see this exact premise working PERFECTLY in a Guillermo Del Toro or Tim Burton type horror film.
We really only got three characters in the movie (and less than ten speaking parts), so a lot rides on our three leads. First, our headliner and box office draw, Brendan Fraser. He may not be the best actor, and he may say some pretty stupid one liners that get old after the 800th time, but he still has the same charm that makes him likable in the Mummy films. I really think that this film is further proof that Josh Hutcherson is THE best young American actor. He's blossomed into a great young actor, after a stunning turn in Bridge to Terabithia, in addition to great shows in Zathura and Little Manhattan. I've never seen a kid (especially a boy, as the girls tend to be better performers at ages 10-16) show so much emotional range, not only in this movie, but throughout his already prolific career (he's 15 and has 24 acting projects in his career). He's one to watch for a very long time. Our third lead is Icelandic actress Anita Briem. She neither added or took away anything from the film, though I suppose that can be blamed on the script, as she is not well developed. Seth Meyers (yes, THAT Seth Meyers) provides some laughs at the beginning and end of the film.
I felt that the chemistry between performers was very good, and was one thing that kept me interested. I came to care for all three of them, and they worked well together. Fraser and Hutcherson in particular worked well as uncle and nephew. While I was disappointed in the narrow scope of the film's vision, what was contained within said scope was well done and entertaining. The 3D really made it better. Without the 3D, this film is nothing but a mere C-class fantasy adventure that will bore anyone above age 10. However, the chemistry of the actors and the 3D save it from somewhat disaster, and make the film a bit enjoyable. It's worth the price of admission to a 3D theater, for sure, but I advise you to bring a younger person with you (who knows, maybe you'll feed off their energy). To put it simple, every kid under 10 or 11 will love it, then watch it again in 10 years and go, "what was I thinking?".
WITH 3D: 5/10 WITHOUT 3D: 3/10