tek's rating: ½

Nim's Island (PG)
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Caution: potential spoilers.

This is based on a book which I've never read. The story is mostly told from the perspective of an 11-year-old girl named Nim Rusoe (Abigail Breslin), whose mother, an oceanographer, was apparently lost at sea when Nim was very young. According to a story told to her by her father, a marine biologist named Jack (Gerard Butler), Nim's mother was swallowed by a blue whale, after an encounter with a ship called "Buccaneers." I'm not sure how old Nim was when her mother disappeared, or died, but apparently she and her father sailed around the world after that, finally finding an island that wasn't on any maps, when Nim was four, and they've lived there ever since. There's a supply ship that shows up now and then, and the Rusoes have contact with the outside world via internet, but supposedly no one knows where their island is (I presume the crew of the ship that brings supplies can be trusted to keep the secret, though we never meet any of them). Nim has a good relationship with her dad (who she usually calls by his first name), and also has a few friends: a sea lion named Selkie, a pelican named Galileo, a sea turtle named Chicca, and a lizard named Fred.

I should also say that Nim has a very vivid imagination, and loves reading, particularly books about a fictitious adventurer named Alex Rover. These books are written by a woman named Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster), though Nim seems to think that the author, who goes by the name Alex, is a man, and probably believes he actually engages in the adventures written about in the books. (I'm not sure if the books don't have an "about the author" blurb or why Nim never would have looked up anything about the books online, but whatever.) Anyway, we also see parts of the movie from the perspective of Alexandra, who has a number of phobias, most notably agoraphobia. She also actually sees and has conversations with the fictional Alex Rover, the hero of her books. (This could be because of her mental state, or it could just be because she has a vivid imagination much like Nim's, who also seems to actually see the scenes she's reading).

Anyway, one day Jack takes his small boat out to spend a couple of days searching for a new species of plankton, which he plans to name after his daughter. He wants Nim to go with him, as he's never left her alone for more than one day before, but she insists on staying behind, because Chicca's eggs are going to be hatching any time now, and she wants to make sure the baby turtles will survive. While Jack is gone, he'll be able to stay in touch with Nim via satellite phone. But there's a storm which causes a bit of damage at their home, and does more serious damage to Jack's boat, leaving him stranded, and without his satellite phone. Meanwhile, Nim begins an email conversation with Alex Rover, who was stuck on a plot point in the book she's writing, involving a volcano. And since Jack had written a National Geographic article about the volcano on the island where they lived, she thought he might be able to help. At first Alex thought Nim was Jack's research assistant, but eventually she learns that she's actually an 11-year-old girl. And Nim's leg was hurt at one point, while trying to do research for Alex. Also, a cruise ship shows up, and the crew wants to open a resort, having no idea the island is inhabited. Nim seems to think they're pirates or something, at first, as their ship is called Buccaneers. Even when it becomes clear they're not pirates, she still doesn't want anyone invading her island. It seemed to me it'd be simplest just to go up to the crew and let them know the place is inhabited, but instead she tried to drive them away without revealing her presence, with some help from her animal friends. (It kind of put me a bit in mind of Swiss Family Robinson.)

Anyway... Alex decides she has to go to the island to help Nim, since she's hurt and her father's missing and all. Which is hard, because she's practically paralyzed with fear of taking one step outside her front door, let alone traveling halfway around the world. And there are a number of connections... two planes, a boat, a helicopter, then the cruise ship and finally a rowboat. She complained every step of the way and kept wanting to go back, though I still think none of it seemed as hard for her as just getting out of her house in the first place was. Meanwhile, we occasionally see Jack trying everything he can to get his own boat moving, so he can get back to Nim. And Galileo flies tools and such to him. I should say the animals in the movie all seemed to have personalities which were a little too close to human to be believable, but at least not as much so as might be the case in an animated movie.

And I guess that's about all I want to say. Of course I won't say how it all turns out. Nim was a pretty cool kid, I thought, and I identified to a certain extent with Alexandra (though I hope my anxieties never get to her level). Anyway, it was a fairly fun movie, but not something I feel the need to ever see again.

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