A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's plenty for kids to love in this swashbuckling adventure that brings Jules Verne's classic novel to life. Some special effects may be scary for younger tweens, especially the dinosaurs and other creatures that attack humans -- and especially when viewed in 3-D. But there's hardly any swearing and there are plenty of role models, notably a female mountain guide who clearly isn't a damsel in distress.
What's the story?
Ever since his brother, Max, disappeared in Iceland a decade ago, scientist Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) has slowly watched the laboratory they built together slide into obscurity. He's lost his passion for teaching, and on top of everything, he's supposed to care for his estranged nephew, Sean (Josh Hutcherson), for 10 days -- after not seeing him for years. While going through Max's personal effects with Sean, Trevor discovers clues that could explain his brother's mysterious disappearance. With the help of mountain guide Hannah (Anita Briem), the two set off to retrace Max's steps, only to unwittingly embark on a journey unlike any other.
Is it any good?
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH touts itself as being the first digital 3-D feature, and there are moments when the investment seems to pay off. When the dinosaur looms over you, it definitely looms. But for the most part, there simply aren't enough scenes in which the technology appreciably makes a contribution. Which isn't to say that the special effects aren't fantastic -- they are. They'll keep audiences, especially the young viewers the movie seems targeted to, on the edge of their seats. And the world depicted is indeed fantastical -- perfectly Vernian.
The lead actors exhibit a wonderful rapport. It's a good thing: They're pretty much together for two-thirds of the movie. Briem is especially good; earnest but not saccharine. And Hutcherson, from Bridge to Terabithia, continues to impress. But the dialog is stilted, especially in the beginning, and the eventual bonding between Trevor and Sean seems forced. Why not skip the rote setup and just jump into the action instead?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what the journey means for all three lead characters. On its face, this is a thrilling adventure, but how does it affect them emotionally? Does it bring them closure?
Does the movie do Verne's book justice? If so, how? If not, why not?
Do you think the movie is trying to convey any particular messages?
- In theaters: July 11, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: October 27, 2008
- Cast: Anita Briem, Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson
- Director: Eric Brevig
- Studio: New Line
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: intense adventure action and some scary moments.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.