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Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) is a vulcanologist who has just had his research funding cut and is about to be ejected from his lab. To make matters worse, his 13-year-old nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) has just arrived for 10 days of quality time with his uncle. Sean's father Max (Jean Michael Pare), Trevor's brother, went missing 10 years earlier while exploring a volcano. Trevor has being working ever since to prove his brother's theories about the centre of the Earth. While looking at a computer screen displaying seismic activity throughout the world, Trevor realises that the readings are identical to those on the day that his brother went missing. Trevor decides to investigate the situation for himself. He goes to Iceland, taking Sean along as well.
In Iceland, Trevor and Sean team up with Hannah (Anita Briem), a mountain guide who leads them to the top of a volcano to get a reading from one of Max's seismographic instruments. An electrical storm erupts, with lightning strikes forcing the trio into a cave. When lightning strikes the cave's entrance, the trio are sealed inside. Their escape attempts lead them to the centre of the earth and many adventures.
Volcanos; prehistoric plants and animals
Journey to the Center of the Earth contains scenes depicting intense action adventure and accidental harm and danger. There is, however, no blood and gore or interpersonal violence. Examples include:
- In the opening scenes of the film, we see a man running from a tyrannosaurus. The man falls while jumping a ravine with lava flowing at the bottom. We see the man disappear, but do not see him actually fall in the lava.
- While Trevor, Sean and Hannah are checking a seismic device on a mountaintop, an electrical storm strikes with bolts of lightning striking the earth close to Trevor causing explosions, flashes of light and smoke. The three run for a cave while bolts of lightning continue to strike the earth. Trevor drops the seismic device, which is struck by lightning and explodes. The trio run into a cave but the cave's entrance is truck by lightning, trapping the three inside.
- While abseiling down a mineshaft, Trevor slips and falls, but is saved by his safety rope. He ends up hanging upside down at the end of his rope.
- Trevor, Sean and Hannah perilously speed through mine tunnels in three miners' carts. We see a break of several metres in the track. Then we see the carts leave the track, flying through the air to breach the gap in the track and then land back on the track. There is lots of screaming and tense moments, but no one is injured. When the carts come to a three-pronged spilt in the track, each cart takes a different track. Hannah's track comes to an end and Hannah jumps into Trevor's cart before her cart crashes into a cave wall.
- Trevor, Sean and Hannah walk across a cave floor. The floor begins to crack and then gives way with the three heroes falling through. We hear them screaming loudly. They continue to fall for several minutes and then fall into a giant water slide that breaks their fall. The trio slides along the water slide and then plunges into a large cave pool. They swim underwater until they reach the pool's bank and climb out, but Hannah is pulled down by her backpack. Trevor dives back into the water swims down and pulls Hannah back up to the surface and on to dry land.
- While travelling across an underground sea on a makeshift raft, Trevor, Sean and Hannah are attacked by flying fish resembling metre-long Piranhas. The fish jump out of the water to land on the raft or on a person with teeth snapping furiously. Trevor uses a piece of wood to beat off the flying fish. A large eel-like creature rises from the water and snatches flying fish from the air eating them whole. We see a large long-necked dinosaur come out of the water and prey on the eel-like creature.
- Hannah gets mild rope burns when a rope she is holding pulls through her hands.
- Hannah and Trevor are attacked by giant carnivorous plants with snapping giant mouth-like heads that rip off Trevor's shirtsleeves. Trevor cuts one of the plants down while other vine-like plants wrap themselves around Hannah's neck, lifting her off the ground while strangling her. Trevor rips the vines out of the ground by their roots, and they release Hannah. Both Hannah and Trevor are uninjured.
- Sean is chased by a tyrannosaurus and runs screaming into a cave. The dinosaur smashes into the cave's entrance, snapping its teeth at Sean. Trevor arrives in the nick of time. Sean is able to make his way out of the back of the cave. Trevor leads the tyrannosaurus across a thin crystal floor. It crashes through, leaving Trevor hanging on to the edge of the floor. Trevor manages to climb up, and he and Sean are both uninjured.
- Trevor, Sean and Hannah sit in a makeshift boat that is trapped in the shaft of a volcano with magma steadily rising beneath them. Trevor hangs upside down from the bottom of the boat trying light a flare. We see and hear an explosion. Trevor is pulled into the boat as water comes crashing through the side of the shaft lifting the boat and pushing it up the shaft of the volcano at great speed. The boat and its crew are shot out of the top of volcano. The boat then slides at great speed down the side of a mountain, crashing through countless grapevines and then coming to rest against a farmhouse. A man shouts angrily at them but then calms down. No one is injured.
Content that may disturb children
Journey to the Center of the Earth contains images of monstrous creatures and scary moments that might scare or disturb younger children. The fearful effects of these images could be heightened because of the film's realistic 3D visual images. The realistic effect of the 3D visual effects alone might scare or disturb younger children who have not experienced 3D films before. For example:
- A giant prehistoric slater-like creature with antennae that suddenly appears to come out of the screen.
- Giant prehistoric flying fish resemble giant flying piranhas. The fish have long sharp snapping sabre-like teeth.
- There is a giant prehistoric eel-like creature with sharp teeth.
- Dinosaurs with long sharp teeth attack giant eel creatures.
- Carnivorous plants resemble giant Venus Fly Traps, and animated vines wrap themselves a person's neck strangling them.
- There are very realistic 3D images of a ferocious tyrannosaurus. We hear loud roars and thud-like sounds that cause the ground to vibrate. We hear loud growling sounds and see Sean looking frightened hiding behind a large boulder. Sean's face and chest are covered by giant globs of saliva. The dinosaur's head and sabre-like teeth appear above Sean's head with giant teeth snapping at Sean's face.
- Hannah finds some abandoned items that belonged to Max, Trevor's lost brother. While we do not see it, the film implies that Hannah finds the remains of Max's body. In a later scene, we see Trevor, Sean and Hannah standing around a mound of piles stones, “Max's grave”, and hear Trevor reading a passage from a journal written by Sean's dead father. Sean appears upset and we see a tear running down his cheek, Sean then bursts into tears and hugs Trevor.
Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the scenes described above
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film
The film contains a couple of low-level sexual references. Examples include:
- While climbing the side of a mountain, Sean says to Trevor in relation to Hannah their guide, 'I've got dibs on the mountain guide'. Trevor responds with, 'Thirteen-year-olds don't have dibs'. A similar exchange occurs towards the end of the movie.
- When Hannah arrives in a makeshift boat, she states to Trevor, 'You didn't think you could escape me? You will have to work harder than that'.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
None of concern
Nudity and sexual activity
There is some mild sensuality and very low-level sexual activity in this movie. Examples include:
- Hannah wears low-cut tops that reveal cleavage, shorts that reveal her thighs, and at one stage a clinging wet top.
- Hannah and Trevor kiss a couple of times on the lips.
The following products are displayed or used in this movie: Sony PSP, Google and the TV cartoon series Family Guy.
None of concern
Ideas to discuss with your children
Journey to the Center of the Earth is a 3D science fiction action adventure targeted at a younger adolescent and child audience. It is likely to entertain adults as well. The main messages from this movie are:
- not to lose sight of what is truly important and meaningful in life or you may come to regret it
- that family is more important than work, or making money
- to persevere through adversity, never giving up no matter what the odds are
- that it's important to stick together.
You might wish to discuss the movie's portrayal of the only female character. Hannah is presented as more capable in every respect than the film's male characters, who rely on her for guidance and to bail them out of trouble.