Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Formulaic-but-exciting family action-adventurer.
  • PG
  • 2008
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 25 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 35 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6 and 7-year-old Written byDale Dietrich January 12, 2020

Terrifc Fun For Whole Family

It was fun and enjoyable for our 5 (almost 6) year old girl and 7 (almost 8) year old boy. The 'violence' was as tame as it gets. As I've said i... Continue reading
Adult Written byThisone554 December 21, 2018

Great for a action movie

Amazing. SO much better than 1989 version. A little language-schist-instead of s--t. Kids might wonder what happened to Max, so be prepared for questions. Enjo... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old August 2, 2020


Funny may scare younger kids no swearing good messages and role models violence
Teen, 14 years old Written byLivie Grace January 28, 2020

Hilarious but stupid

I only watch this movie to make fun of, because it is cheesy but hilariously entertaining

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?


Movie details

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