March 13, 2009
Review - " Race to Witch Mountain " - (in Theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Race to Witch Mountain
Directed By: Andy Fickman
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Anna Sophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, Ciaran Hinds,
Former Vegas wheelman and current down on his luck cab driver Jack Bruno
(Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) winds up on the adventure of a lifetime when he
unwittingly agrees to transport two young kids, Sara (Anna Sophia Robb) and
Seth (Alexander Ludwig), to a remote location in the Nevada desert. Upon
discovering the children's true identity, and their monumental mission to save
Earth, Jack enlists the aid of UFO specialist Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino) to
help the kids reach their final destination of Witch Mountain, a top secret
government testing facility. Promising to help Sara and Seth accomplish their
quest, Jack and Alex must fend off the forces of evil, including a ruthless
government agent (Ciaran Hinds) and a murderous cyborg intent on eliminating
anyone who stands in its way.
Based on the book "Escape to Witch Mountian" by Alexander Key, the film is a
modern re-imagining of the 1975 Disney Classic of the same name and inspired
the 1978 sequel "Return From Witch Mountain". The cast also includes Kim
Richards & Iake Eissinmann who played the original alien children Tia and Tony
in the first Witch Mountain films.
Anna Sophia Robb is a fine actress and was wonderful in "Bridge to Terrabithia". They don't make enough use of her
talents in "Witch Mountian". Sara, being a telepath, has alot more social skills and empathy than her more robotic brother,
Seth, who takes everything fairly literal. Dwayne Johnson, as Jack Bruno, brings a strong balance to the young players.
Garry Marshall, Carla Gugino, and Cheech Marin as the Reluctant Mechanic bring a wealth of credits and tallent to the table
and are a credit to their parts.
While this is PG, it doesn't shy away from violence or guns. But the catch is when Dwayne Johnson and the teen-Aliens are
running from an Alien Bounty hunter early on, the teens look scared. Anna Sophia Robb's eyes really deliver a sense of
vulnerability. The soundtrack is gloriously big, and the special effects, while not groundbreaking ,do satisfy with scenes like
the train tunnel chase, the force field that stops bullets and large, moving cavalcades of cars.
Sections of the movie takes place around a sci-fi convention. This allows for plenty of gags that remind us that the film
makers didn't take this movie too seriously. As with most Sci-Fi, it relates to our times. Our protagonist teens have no rights
because they are illegal aliens. The government "Men In Black" are out of control. And a warning about saving the
environment plays a big part.
Despite some glaring plot loopholes, Race to Witch Mountain has all the ingredients for a great family outing. The story
doesn't try to be more intellectual than it can handle, and doesn't let the special effects run wild and take over everything
else. Recommended for a family outing, but don't go expecting something out of this world (pun not intended), as
everything's pretty formula. if you take the movie for what it is, you'll see that it's truly the beautifully crafted
action-adventure every kid longs to experience and captured within the mysticism and excitement of a good space story
using just enough cgi to compliment the film, without overpowering it's actors as so many movies do today. It promises a
simple story with inspiring ideals and experiences woven into its heart.