Island" is pure, unadulterated, escapist fantasy,
the sort of roiling adventure film that kids will
love but parents will simply have to endure.
Young Nim (Abigail Breslin) lives on a remote,
uncharted Pacific island with only her father
(Gerard Butler), a marine biologist who studies
single-cell organisms and writes articles for
National Geographic magazine.
Together they live every child's (and I suspect many
adults') ultimate fantasy, a sort of "Swiss Family
Robinson" existence, intentional castaways. Nim's
school textbooks are encyclopedias, and her best
friends are wild animals with whom she can
intuitively communicate. When she's not frolicking
in the ocean, Nim can be found buried in the latest
Alex Rover novel, a series of stories about an
adventurer who lives a life not unlike her own.
But you can't always judge a book by its cover.
Unbeknownst to the world, Alex Rover is really
Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster), an agoraphobic,
self-imposed shut-in who is terrified of the outside
companion is her imaginary hero, Alex (also played by Butler),
an Indiana Jones type with a Scottish brogue. When Alexandra
finds herself in the midst of writer's block, unable to conceive
of a way for her hero to escape from a particularly prickly
predicament, Alexandra e-mails Nim's father for some technical
But Nim's father cannot answer because
he has disappeared, lost at sea on a
scientific expedition. Left to fend for
herself, Nim begs Alexandra for help,
prompting the reclusive author to
reluctantly fly halfway around the world
to rescue her.
"Nim's Island" is based on the popular
children's book by Wendy Orr and
produced by Walden Media, the
family-friendly company behind such
films as "The Chronicles of Narnia" and
"Bridge to Terabithia." The film is
chock full of the sorts of perils that
occur only in kids' adventure films:
exploding volcanoes, ravenous sharks,
violent hurricanes, shipwrecks at sea,
etc. The cherubic Breslin, who gets
first billing here, continues to
impress. Unfortunately, while Foster is
an astonishing dramatic actor, she is a
lousy comedian. Her Alexandra, a bundle
of neurosis, is rarely funny.
Levin and Jennifer Flackett make Nim so
resourceful and self-sufficient that she
is the one who should be rescuing the
adults, not the other way around. "Be
the hero of your own story," writes
Alexandra in the novels Nim loves so
much. It is advice Nim takes valiantly
to heart, to the advantage of her
secluded paradise and the disadvantage
of the plot. By the time Alexandra comes
to Nim's rescue, the child already has
things well in hand.
What begins as a one-woman rescue
operation becomes, instead, an exotic
journey of self discovery for a hermit
who has lived only through the
characters about whom she writes.
Until recently, Saturn's tiny moon Enceladus was
thought to be cold and dead. But close observations
by the Cassini spacecraft have revealed dramatic
features and has sparked new widespread interest in
this frozen world, making it a prime target in
NASA's search for life. Uncover the many unique
features of Enceladus and watch the story unfold.