Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Race to Witch Mountain (Blu-ray)

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
5.5 out of 10
Extras Rating:
6 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: PG

Starring:
Dwayne Johnson as Jack Bruno
AnnaSophia Robb as Sara
Alexander Ludwig as Seth
Carla Gugino as Dr. Alex Friedman
Ciarán Hinds as Henry Burke
Tom Everett Scott as Matheson
Chris Marquette as Pope
Billy Brown as Carson
Garry Marshall as Dr. Donald Harlan
Kim Richards as Tina
Ike Eisenmann as Sheriff Antony
Tom Woodruff Jr. as Siphon
Paul Darnell as Siphon
John Duff as Frank
Bob Koherr as Marty

Special Features:
Bloopers
Deleted Scenes
"Which Mountain?" Featurette
BD-Live™

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
DTS-HD 5.1 Surround Sound
Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Languages
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 98 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

"Fasten your seatbelts for the thrill ride of your life in Disney's fun family action-adventure -- 'Race to Witch Mountain,' starring Dwayne Johnson.

Jack Bruno (Johnson), a Las Vegas cabdriver struggling to stay on the right path, gets an out-of-this-world incentive when two aliens, disguised as teenagers, suddenly appear in his taxi. In a race against government agents, an alien hunter and time itself, Jack must help the children recover their lost spaceship so they can return home and save their planet and ours. Breathtaking chases, close calls and special effects make this an action-adventure the whole family will enjoy."

"Race to Witch Mountain" is rated PG for sequences of action and violence, frightening and dangerous situations, and some thematic elements.

The Movie:
Like any kid that grew up in the '70s and '80s, I fondly remember "Escape to Witch Mountain." It was like "Close Encounters" for kids. I was curious to see if this film would fall into the sequel category or the remake category (it's a pretty dramatic remake). I was also curious to see what my kids would think of it.

I took the whole family to this screening which was a bit of a risk. My 4-year-old can't sit still very long and he was bouncing off the walls before it started. But as soon as the movie began, they were all entranced. It moved along fast enough and there wasn't much break in the action, so they sat still. And it appealed to both my 9-year-old daughter (who identified with Sara) and my 6-year-old son (who loved the action and The Rock...er... Dwayne Johnson). So as far as family outings go, this was a great success. I didn't have to drag anyone out of the theater or pull them off of the floor out of the goo. That wins points in my book.

Keep an eye out in one scene for Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann, the kids from the original films. It's fun to see them back on the screen. (A bit of trivia for you - Kim Richards is Paris Hilton's aunt. Now you learned something today.)

Unfortunately, overall, this movie was a bit flat and I think a lot of opportunities were missed to spice it up. For example, Sara and Seth are quite dull. I mean, they're aliens and they act like the kids from the first movie, but they're still dull. They're 'straight men' for Dwayne. One of the few times they get interesting is when Sara talks telepathically to the dog, but that's a relatively small part of the movie. The government officials are rather cookie cutter, too, and don't have anything that makes them interesting. And I'm a big fan of Dwayne Johnson and I'll watch whatever he's in, but his character needed a bit more personality. He's great in the action, but his delivery of the humorous lines wasn't all it could have been.

"Star Wars" fans will be amused to see a couple of stormtroopers regularly pop up through the film, but in the end they're treated like the UFO conventioneers also shown in the movie – they're portrayed as weirdos and losers. I'm not saying UFO buffs aren't weirdos and losers, but the movie seems to be biting the hand that feeds it. The UFO enthusiasts could have been used as something more than stereotypical cheap shots at laughs.

One other nitpick – though this is called "Race to Witch Mountain," there's no real race. They only find out they need to go to Witch Mountain in the final minutes of the film. And Witch Mountain isn't the UFO landing zone that it was in the previous movies. I can't talk about it without getting into spoilers, but what it really is kind of defies logic, especially since Garry Marshall has so much information on it.

Overall this is a solid kid's movie. If you have to entertain kids 12 and under over Spring Break, then I'd recommend "Race to Witch Mountain." Anyone older than this should break out a "Close Encounters" DVD or even the original films or go watch another Dwayne Johnson movie.

The Extras:
Unfortunately they went light on the bonus features. There are 3 minutes of bloopers. There are also 9 Deleted Scenes. Most of them are quite minor. Among the notable ones is more of Kim Richards as Tina, the waitress. We see her serving Jack and the kids hamburgers which they stuff their faces with. Another scene shows her being confronted by the alien bounty hunter. There is also a longer ending showing a tearful goodbye with the kids, then another ending showing Burke telling Jack and Alex he's still watching them. "Which Mountain?" is the highlight of the bonus features and shows all the Easter Eggs hidden in the film. And boy are there a lot of them. They have everything from a cameo by the Nattie Gann actress to a cameo by the "Tron 2.0" producer. It's worth checking out everything they hid. Rounding things out is a BD-Live feature.

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