Race to Witch Mountain

"Good"

Race to Witch Mountain Review


The '70s were not a good time for Disney. Not only were their animated "masterworks" failing to live up to their flawless ancestry, but their live action efforts -- Super Dad, Castaway Cowboy -- were truly testing audience patience. In 1975, British director John Hough, responsible for the genre hit The Legend of Hell House, was hired to adapt Alexander Key's 1968 novel Escape to Witch Mountain into a feature film. The story of two children possessing paranormal powers, and the extraterrestrial origins of said skills, became one of the company's few hits of the day.

It was so popular that they made a sequel (1978's Return to Witch Mountain), a '90s TV movie, and now a full blown remake starring former wrestling icon Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. While the title suggests a sort of urgency, there really was no need to create this Race to Witch Mountain. While enjoyable, it's largely foolish and forgettable.

With a sci-fi convention in town, ex-con taxi driver Jack Bruno (Johnson) is growing tired of Las Vegas. So when two young teens, Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig) commandeer his cab and ask him for his help, our hero reluctantly agrees. He soon finds out that his charges are actual ETs, sent from their home planet to save Earth from an imminent invasion. With the help of quasi-crackpot scientist, Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino), her conspiracy theory buddy Dr. Donald Harlan (Garry Marshall), and a lot of UFO legend, he must help the kids relocate their downed spacecraft. Unfortunately, it's in the hands of evil government agent Henry Burke (Ciarán Hinds) who wants the special space-kids for his own wicked experiments.

Race to Witch Mountain is the perfect example of an "almost" experience. It's "almost" a decent action film, through director Andy Fickman wouldn't know the first thing about capturing and editing stuntwork. This is a sloppy-looking effort. It's "almost" science fiction, though science foolish would be a better term. This alien mumbo jumbo is about as believable as Mac and Me. It's "almost" a comedy, both Johnson and costar Gugino delivering out of place one-liners like they're the main attraction at a Shriner's convention. And it's "almost" entertaining, resorting to broad manipulation and unexplained subtext to keep the audience rooting for the heroes and hissing the mandatory government ops bad guys. For all its lame effects and illogical narrative turns, like the proverbial horseshoes and nuclear warheads, it "almost" works.

Let's face it -- when the best bits of your remake are the extended cameos from original Witch Mountain kids Kim Richards (as a sympathetic waitress) and Ike Eisenmann (as a no nonsense sheriff), there's not much chance to make a classic. But Fickman, who found a way to make Johnson both likeable and larger than life in their previous hit collaboration, The Game Plan, here strands his star with a one-note storyline. Once our alien teens take over his taxi, Jack is going nowhere but forward. The film then becomes an obstacle course, with characters avoiding confrontations with a Predator/Terminator-like bounty hunter, the mysterious U.S. agents, and anything remotely resembling seriousness. Taking a huge chunk out of the '80s primer on big screen bombast, our leads have to quip about everything as bombs, lasers, and bullets go off around them.

The end result is a textbook "crowd pleaser," a movie made to really resonate with the lowest common denominators in the demographic. Kids will love the explosions and cheesy futuristic falderal. Fans of The Rock will get more of his genial, jokey persona. There's danger, derring-do, and even a helpful junkyard dog (no, seriously). As an artistic statement, it's "almost" as bad as Disney's Me Decade track record. As mindless escapism, it fits the bill.

License to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations.



Race to Witch Mountain

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 13th March 2009

Box Office USA: $67.1M

Box Office Worldwide: $106.3M

Budget: $50M

Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures

Production compaines: Walt Disney Pictures, Gunn Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Fresh: 65 Rotten: 86

IMDB: 5.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Jack Bruno, as Sara, as Seth, as Dr. Alex Friedman, as Pope, as Tina, as Natalie Gann, as Burke, as Matheson, Billy Brown as Carson, Tom Woodruff Jr. as Siphon, as Lloyd, as Dominick, as Chuck, as Dr. Donald Harlan, as Sheriff Antony, as Eddie

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.