Brendan Fraser

Some time ago, the 2008 movie of Journey to the Center of the Earth (based on the Jules Verne fantasy) came by me. It’s a piece of fluff, a fantasy action/adventure film with comic touches, starring Brendan Fraser as a volcanologist named Trev(or) who ends up exploring the center of the earth with his 13-year-old nephew Sean and a young Icelandic woman named Hannah; Trev’s brother (and Sean’s father) Max and Hannah’s father Sigurbjörn were both Vernians, taking the works of Jules Verne to be fact and not fiction, and in the end they are vindicated, but not until the three principals have been though a series of extraordinary adventures.

Fraser is something of a favorite of mine. He’s a very physical and energetic actor, who often plays charming and agreeable (sometimes goofy) characters, and he was a pleasure to watch in this lightweight film.

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Trev studies a copy of Verne’s Journey annotated by Max

From Wikipedia:

Brendan James Fraser … is an American-Canadian actor. He portrayed Rick O’Connell in The Mummy trilogy (1999-2008) and is known for his comedic and fantasy film leading roles in major Hollywood films, such as Encino Man (1992), The Scout (1994), George of the Jungle (1997), Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) and Inkheart (2009). He also starred in numerous dramatic roles, such as Gods and Monsters (1998), The Quiet American (2002), Crash (2004) and Gimme Shelter (2013).

The Mummy films are all entertaining, but the first one is one of those movies you can watch again and again and still get pleasure from. Here’s Fraser as Rick O’Connell, with his two-sided shoulder holster for two-handed wasting of mummies.

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At some point in the Mummy movies, Fraser says, “I hate mummies!”, and then the line surfaces in other forms in some of his other movies. In Journey, it’s something like “Have I mentioned how much I hate field work?”

On to the very silly George of the Jungle, in which Fraser goofs around as the title character. From Wikipedia:

George of the Jungle is a 1997 American live-action film adaptation of the cartoon of the same name… It stars Brendan Fraser as the eponymous main character, a primitive man who was raised by animals in an African jungle; Leslie Mann as his love interest; and Thomas Haden Church as her treacherous fiancé.

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Back in those days, Fraser was given to appearing shirtless.

Then a truly wnderful and moving film, Gods and Monsters. From Wikipedia, in great detail, because I really admire this film:

Gods and Monsters is a 1998 British-American drama film that recounts the (somewhat fictionalized) last days of the life of troubled film director James Whale, whose experience of war in World War One is a central theme. It stars Ian McKellen as Whale [gay as gay can be], along with Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave, Lolita Davidovich, and David Dukes. The movie was directed and written by Bill Condon from Christopher Bram’s novel Father of Frankenstein. It was executive produced by British horror novelist Clive Barker.

… Whale befriends his young, handsome gardener and former Marine, Clayton Boone [played by Fraser] and the two begin a sometimes uneasy friendship as Boone poses for Whale’s sketches. The two men bond while discussing their lives and dealing with Whale’s spells of disorientation and weakness from … strokes. Boone, impressed with Whale’s fame, watches [Whale’s film] The Bride of Frankenstein on TV as his friends mock the movie, his friendship with Whale, and Whale’s intentions.

… Boone assures Whale that he is straight and receives assurance from Whale that there is no sexual interest, but Boone storms out when Whale graphically discusses his sexual history. Boone later returns with the agreement that no such “locker room” discussions occur again. Boone is invited to escort Whale to a party hosted by George Cukor for Princess Margaret. There, a photo op has been arranged for Whale with “his Monsters”: Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester from “ancient” movie fame. This event exacerbates his depression. A sudden rain storm becomes an excuse to leave.

Back at Whale’s home, Boone needs a dry change of clothes. Whale can only find a sweater, so Boone wears a towel wrapped around his waist. Whale decides to try to sketch Boone one more time. After some minutes, he shows his sketches to Boone, disclosing that he has lost his ability to draw. After Boone drops his towel to pose nude [as I read it, a move to try to help Whale recover some of his ability, by giving him the spur of sexual desire], Whale makes him wear a World War I gas mask and then uses the opportunity to make a sexual advance on Boone, kissing his shoulder. Boone becomes enraged and attacks Whale, who confesses that this had been his plan and begs Boone to kill him to relieve him of his suffering. Boone refuses [as I read this, Boone has now shifted from protective sympathy to pity, which means Whale has nothing left], puts Whale to bed, then sleeps downstairs. The next morning, Hanna [the protective housekeeper, played by Lynn Redgrave] is alarmed when she can’t find Whale, prompting a search by Boone and Hanna. Boone finds Whale floating dead in the pool

Fraser just after he drops that towel, shown from the waist up:

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More shirtlessness.

Fraser is in the odd position of once having been a major Hollywood star (the three movies above, though very different in tone, are from a very short span of time), and then he withered away in the consciousness of the moviegoing public, though he continued to beaver away as an actor; he’s always been a hard worker. Some of his early successes are great entertainments but not great film, and some of his more recent work is thoughtful and complex. But the public is fickle.

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