Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)

  • Review Date: July 7, 2008
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Formulaic-but-exciting family action-adventurer.
  • Review Date: July 7, 2008
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 89 minutes





What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids learn about Jules Verne and his novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, which a group of scientists in the film believe to be factual. Professor Trevor Anderson is a volcanologist, so there is talk of the science of volcanoes and some encounters with volcanic tubes, magma, geysers, caves, and gems formed in the caves. There are also scenes with prehistoric creatures. 

Positive messages

Working together through adversity, a shattered family becomes close, finds hope, love, and continues the work of Sean's lost father.  

Positive role models

Hannah is no damsels in distress, but a woman clearly capable of taking care of herself and others, which is nice to see in this type of movie. Trevor Anderson is smart, resourceful, and brave, but distant at first with his surly teen nephew, Sean. Eventually they find common ground.

Violence & scariness

Somewhat violent but not gory scenes of carnivorous plants attacking humans, dinosaurs feasting on anything that moves, and flying fish on a rampage.

Sexy stuff

Two sweet kisses.


The word "schist" is used as a replacement for "s--t."


A fair amount, including mentions of Mountain Dew, PSP, and The Family Guy, plus signage for Iceland Air.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

Families can talk 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?


Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 11, 2008
DVD release date:October 27, 2008
Cast:Anita Briem, Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson
Director:Eric Brevig
Studio:New Line
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters
Run time:89 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:intense adventure action and some scary moments.

This review of Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Written byAnonymous October 23, 2009

Watch out folks, this is the new blockbuster.

I have NEVER seen a better movie. Sure it has product placement issues, a joke about a swear word, and two kisses. But it is a great film. The film is so long and so good that I haven't missed a chance to see it.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 16 years old Written byEPILOGUE June 10, 2010


The movie itself was really good in my opinion. Absolutely unbelievable and wonderfully strange. I love Brendan Fraser as an actor, and he portrayed quite a good role mode in this movie for young kids. There are a few scenes that kept me on the edge of my seat but might scare litttle kids, such as the one's where dinosaurs were involved, but I can truly say I enjoyed watching the movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Kid, 8 years old June 12, 2010
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 12 years old January 31, 2010


This movie is GREAT!! It has really cool affects, and Brendan fraser does a really good job! I have watched it a bunch of times, and it never gets old!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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