It has been hot and sticky here in Michigan of late. Since we don't have a pool and the kids are utterly bored with our sprinkler and ripped Slip'n'Slide, we decided to head out to the movies. The movie of choice this time was Journey to the Center of the Earth starring Brendan Fraser and Josh Hutcherson (of one of my favorite movies of last year The Bridge to Terabithia). Journey to the Center of the Earth is rated PG for intense adventure action and some scary parts.
Plot: If you don't want to know what happens, stop here.
For those of you who are still with me, Brendan Fraser plays scientist/professor Trevor Anderson who teaches and studies earth sciences, volcanic activity to be specific. Trevor's brother, Max, was also involved in the study of volcanic activity and disappeared while on an expedition ten years earlier leaving behind a wife and son, Sean, played by Hutcherson. Sean, unenthusiastically comes to stay with his sloppy, single uncle for two weeks one summer. While visiting his uncles laboratory, he notices some sensors going off indicating volcanic activity in Iceland. Sean and Trevor hustle off to Iceland to explore the source with Sean's father's copy of Jules Verne's book, Journey to the Center of the Earth. It should be noted that the book is filled with cryptic notes and codes from Sean's father. In Iceland, they hire a mountain guide, Hannah (played by Anita Briem) to help them find the sensor. During an electrical storm, they fall into an abandoned mine and eventually fall even further, yes, to the center of the earth. There they find an amazing world filled with oceans, magma, dinosaurs and floating rocks.
Violence: There is really very little violence other than Sean and Trevor batting some very scary looking prehistoric fish while trying to cross a very treacherous sea.
Sexual Innuendo: No real sexual innuendo in the movie. Sean and Trevor call "dibs" on Hannah in the beginning of the movie. To be expected, she and Trevor start to fall for each other and seal the deal in the end with a kiss.
Strong Language/Crudeness: There was no strong language that I can remember. There was a scene where they discuss "all the schist. As far as crudeness or "the gross factor," the movie was shot in 3-D (although this viewing was not offered at the theater where we saw the film) so there are lots of shots of things flying through the air. The grossest I can recall is the saliva from the dinosaur.
Creepy Factor: I don't recall anything particularly creepy in this film.
Scary Images: By far the scariest part of the film is the dinosaur scene. A large t-Rex chases Sean in a very lengthy scene. Big teeth. Big dinosaur. Lots of peril. My daughter had me by the arm during most of that scene. Older kids will know that there is no way they are going to let the dinosaur eat the kid. Younger viewers might be truly frightened by the dinosaur as well as the very scary looking fish I mentioned earlier.
Final Tally: The kids and I collectively gave this movie an A-. We really had a good time and will likely buy this one on DVD when it comes out. Why? We remained engaged throughout. There was lots of action. The characters were likable and real. In particular, I loved that Hannah's character was a strong, independent woman with lots of brains -- you don't see that very often in films nowadays. I also enjoyed watching the relationship between Trevor and Sean evolve. I should mention that shortly after their arrival to the earth's core, they discover the demise of Sean's dad. There is a rather sad moment when they say goodbye to him. The awkward relationship between Sean and Trevor dissipates and they eventually grow close as a result of the mutual loss of Max. Trevor is able to help Sean truly know who his father was -- it was rather sweet.
I wouldn't recommend this film for children under the age of six of those kids who are frightened by mild peril. Having said that, any child who was able to handle the last Harry Potter film should do just fine. All in all, the journey to the center of the earth was a fun ride.