Any movie that piques kids' curiosity to read classic literature like Treasure Island, Gulliver's Travels and the works of Jules Verne already gets points in my book.
In this sequel to the 2008 hit movie Journey to the Center of the Earth, teen Sean Anderson is 4 years older and his obsession with Jules Verne novels continues to land him in more hot water. His mother (Kristin Davis) is now remarried to Hank (Dwayne Johnson), a Navy vet who is trying to fit into his stepson Sean's Vernian world (what he calls people who believe Verne's books are real.) This time the story is loosely based on the Verne classic The Mysterious Island.
When an opportunity for Sean to reunite with his long lost grandfather (Michael Caine) comes up, Hank uses it to bond with Sean and they travel to the South Pacific.
The film reminds me of the Da Vinci Code for kids, where ancient texts (this time classic literature, and mythical stories like The Nautilus and The Lost City of Atlantis) are decoded. I loved getting home to see many of those books are all getting revivals at the library and on the bestseller lists.
I loved the special effects and adventure in the movie too. In locales alluding to Swift's Gulliver's Travels, things have been turned upside down. The large are small and the small are now large. They snuggle cute baby elephants, ride mammoth bees, and flee giant lizards, for instance.
However the acting is subpar in Journey 2, not that kids will care much. Vanessa Hudgens glares into the camera for much of the film, playing the discontented daughter of the helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman). Then she oozes on affection so quick it isn't believable.
The kids are smart in the movies while the parents often play the fool part, but even this is somewhat remedied by the end.
There is some romantic chemistry between the two teenagers and there are often scenes too scary for viewers under 8, earning it its PG rating.
Julie Samrick is a stay-at-home mom of 4 young kids and the founder of Kid Focused, a site devoted to children and family issues. Subscribe to the free Kid Focused newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox and connect with us on Facebook too. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com