What You Need To Know:
The period feel is excellent, the effects are majestic, and the shots at sea are superb. The suspense is good, too. There are humorous moments as well. The film shouldn't be rated PG. No one gets killed except the captain, and his crew commits his body to the deep with a Christian prayer and hymn. SHIPWRECKED is good, clean, wholesome fun, and will leave you with warm feelings of family, responsibility and bravery.
(OK) Nothing objectionable.
Disney does it again in another classic adventure story about a 14-year-old Norwegian teenager named Hakon, who sets out on the high seas in 1859 with a merchant cargo ship to help save his family’s small farm.
As ship’s boy, young Hakon is befriended by Jens, the boatswain, who tells the lad to “do your work and keep your eyes open.” Unbeknownst to them, a ruthless pirate named Merrick has disguised himself as a British officer and takes control of the ship after poisoning the captain.
Upon the ship’s arrival at Sydney, Merrick takes on “extra men” to protect them through pirate waters as they go to Calcutta. However, also coming on board is a stowaway orphan named Mary, whom Hakon shelters in exchange for her teaching him to read.
When a fierce hurricane wrecks the ship, Hakon is thrown overboard. He awakens marooned on a deserted island and finds a cave full of pirated treasures. He also finds a clipping identifying John Merrick as “terror of the South Seas.” Figuring that Merrick will be back for his treasures, Hakon booby traps the island with swinging axeheads and foot snares he constructs with items from a previous shipwreck.
Spying smoke on a nearby island, Hakon builds a raft and paddles over, where, it turns out, Mary and Jens have been washed ashore. The trio return together and don’t have to wait long before the ominous skull-and-crossbones sail into view. It is pure fun watching them trying to outsmart the band of vicious buccaneers who have come to the island to retrieve the plundered treasures.
The period feel is excellent, and the effects are on a majestic scale, with the shots at sea really superb. The suspense is pretty good, too. In one daring rescue, Hakon, submerged underwater, gropes for the keys that will free Mary, who has been clapped in irons on board the sinking ship.
There are humorous moments as well, such as when Hakon buys a round of milk for his shipmates, or blows a horn to scare away a gorilla.
As for why the film is rated PG, it shouldn’t be. Perhaps someone thought that as Hakon sets up his home, a dangling snake here, or bats-in-a-cave there might be too intense for children under 8 years. No one gets killed except the captain, and, in a touching scene, his crew commits his body to the deep with a Christian prayer and hymn.
For every boy, girl, Mom, or Dad who have at one time or another fantasized about the pirate life, SHIPWRECKED provides a vicarious opportunity to do just that. It is essentially about a young man’s rite of passage, in which Hakon summons every ounce of courage to stay alive. The film is good, clean, wholesome fun, and will leave you with warm feelings of family, responsibility and bravery.