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

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman reunite with The Switch directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck...

Snowden Movie Review

Snowden Movie Review

Here's another remarkable biopic from Oliver Stone, who has used all-star casts and intensely pointed...

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

This true story from 19th century America feels eerily relevant today in its depiction of...

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Advertisement
Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

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.