Turtle: The Incredible Journey

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Turtle: The Incredible Journey Movie Poster Image
Educational but slow docu may not keep kids' interest.
  • G
  • 2011
  • 80 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids will learn a great deal about the life cycle of the loggerhead turtle, from how it hatches in the sand to its dangerous trip just to reach the ocean, to its "incredible journey" around the entire North Atlantic. It's an inspiring, death-defying story, and kids will know exactly how resilient sea turtles are when they're done with the documentary. Many statistics are mentioned at length: 2 million loggerhead hatchlings are born each year on Florida beaches, turtles lay about 100 eggs at a time, only 1 in 10,000 loggerheads will reach adulthood.

Positive Messages

Turtles must overcome grim odds to complete their migratory journey. Humans are partly to blame for the pollution in the oceans; all of our garbage threatens sea animals' lives, so we must do our part to minimize our impact.

Positive Role Models & Representations
Violence & Scariness

In a several scenes, the turtle's life is threatened -- by hungry crabs, predatory birds, and the dangers of the ocean (including a huge cargo ship) -- but it's always safe.

Sexy Stuff

Female and male turtle meet at the end to mate, but it's not discussed at length.


One of the companies distributing the movie is a division of SeaWorld, and the movie's release coincided with the launch of a new turtle-themed attraction at the company's San Diego theme park.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this nature documentary follows one little loggerhead turtle as she makes her arduous migratory journey across the Gulf Stream and around the North Atlantic. There's nothing particularly disturbing in the film, though one early scene does include a tense sequence in which the baby turtle attempts to reach the ocean despite threats from hungry crabs and predatory birds. Nothing ends up happening to "our" turtle, but we do learn how few of them actually make it to adulthood. This is the rare case of a movie being more educational than entertaining, and it might not hold young kids' interest for the complete runtime.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byfortheloveof May 9, 2019

great documentary for kids

I have shown this to my 6th grade classes for many years and have incorporated various science lessons with it. It's emotionally captivating, beautifully... Continue reading
Adult Written byMinime77 June 16, 2014

4 only watching with parent. Loved it, but only with watching it with parent, otherwise too much

Of course, parts are scary, I mean the dead turtle was scary, the dad seahorse and when the crap caught the baby turtles to eat them. I watched it with my 3 y o... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2012

Educating and great for kids

I recommended this movie about sea life. If you love to learn about the ocean watch this movie.

What's the story?

Narrated by Miranda Richardson, this wildlife documentary chronicles THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY of the loggerhead turtle, from tiny hatchling to sea voyager to full adult who will make the return trip back to her ancestral home on the beaches on Florida. As viewers learn early on, only one in every 10,000 turtles will ever make it to adulthood; but against all odds, this "little turtle that could" weathers every potential threat -- other animals, cargo ships, hunger -- to undergo one of the animal kingdom's longest migrations.

Is it any good?

The visuals are beautiful, but the story feels about half an hour too long. And while the swelling score and intense voice over try to make every scene feel significant, unless you (or your kid) is a passionate turtle lover, you may begin to wonder where you've stashed your copy of March of the Penguins.

Filmmakers who direct animal documentaries must balance the need to show the natural world as it unfolds in front of the camera with the desire to create a more human-like drama for the sake of entertainment. Unfortunately, Turtle swings a little too far in the latter direction, with overwrought narration. There also isn't that much inherent tension. It's not that "our" turtle doesn't face any pulse-quickening moments, but after her initial race to the ocean, there's just not that much going on (and if she had been one of thousands of unlucky turtles, obviously there would be no story).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether a nature documentary about an individual animal can be as interesting as a film that follows groups of the same animal or different species. Which do you prefer?

  • How do human actions affect the life of the loggerhead turtles? What can we do to minimize our impact on the sea?

  • What's the movie's environmental message? How does it appear in the film?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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