Movie Review: Race to Witch Mountain (2009)


This is about as exciting as it gets
Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Race to Witch Mountain is billed as a “fun and thrilling adventure featuring incredible special effects” but it lives up to none of these descriptors. Race to Witch Mountain is actually a redundant and dull attempt at an adventure featuring incredibly cheap looking sets and special effects and more pointless car chases than any film deserves to have. Beyond that, the film never settles on a pace and I have no idea who the intended audience is; young kids are likely to find it a bit scary while adults will be bored. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as director Andy Fickman (The Game Plan) isn’t a seasoned action director but I will give him credit for pointing the camera in the right direction.

The film itself is a reimagining of the 1975 Disney feature Escape to Witch Mountain, which I have never seen, and tells the story of a pair of alien siblings that crash land on Earth just outside of Las Vegas and are chased by members of the Department of Defense. By coincidence they attract the services of a Vegas cabbie (Dwayne Johnson) who ends up helping them in their mission along with an astrophysicist played by Carla Gugino. Oh, and on top of the U.S. government’s attempts to capture the young extraterrestrials there’s an alien assassin hot on their tail. As a member of the audience this is supposed to excite and thrill you, but it looks as if it was shot in someone’s backyard half the time ruining the illusion and ultimately creating a lifeless film you expect to see on the Disney Channel, not in theaters.

The title of the film is actually a bit of a misnomer as there is no real race to anywhere except for the exit once the film ends. As a matter of fact the film has no direction at all as random things happen here and there giving us useless character details just before the next chase sequence starts up. You simply need to sit back and watch as the characters are bounced across the map until they end up exactly where they need to be for the film to end. TILT!

Most unfortunate, is it seems Dwayne Johnson’s charisma is being wasted on useless kid films when he has shown he has much more to offer movie fans in the past. He will continue this trend with Tooth Fairy later this year, so it appears to be what he is drawn to. I guess the whole “next Arnold Schwarzenegger” thing didn’t interest him.

I am sure Race to Witch Mountain will find a first weekend audience, but I can’t imagine word-of-mouth on this flick generating too much box-office, but I could be wrong as Johnson’s last team up with Fickman in The Game Plan garnered $90 million. The difference here being that film was specifically geared toward younger audiences while Race to Witch Mountain may have that goal in mind, but it can’t live up to it.