Movie Review: Race to Witch Mountain
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Over the past several years I have become a fan of Disney Films. No, not the animated features that have been the hallmark of Disney releases, but rather their live-action counterparts. These films have been entertaining, well done and most of all family friendly. Race to Witch Mountain delivers on all fronts.
Starring The Rock (I don’t care how much they push “Dwayne Johnson” down my throat, he’s still The Rock to me!) the first surprise in this movie is that a muscle-bound ex-wrestler can legitimately carry a movie, as opposed to the original that was carried by the two child protagonists.
If you laughed at the sarcastic wit the Rock shows in the previews, then you will really enjoy his smart mouth that is on display throughout the whole movie. On the other hand, I probably would have been happier with just that (as I was when he was on pro Wrestling) rather than all the other action of the movie.
The action is surprisingly persistent for a kids movie; though the violence is quite nullified. Example: the army guys point their guns a lot at Jack Bruno (The Rock’s character) but never actually shoot him. But they do shoot at the bad guys.
While it has been probably twenty-five years since I’ve seen the original “Escape to Which Mountain” I do not recall an evil alien chasing the children. In this version a mercenary being from the home world of the protagonist alien children. This results in a few fight sequences that could be dubbed “Rock vs. Predator” and “Rock vs. Predator Requiem.”
Again, as I have stated it has been quite some time since I’ve seen the original, yet this movie seems to have captured much of the original’s intent, with the action, laser beams and car chases decidedly turned up to eleven. Though this is a kids movie there is a sub-text that the Iraq War could have been avoided were alternative-energies developed. Don’t worry 99% of people, including your kids will miss that one.
The supporting cast is fairly solid. The children Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig) nearly jump into this film directly from the original, though Robb’s performance will not be as memorable as the performances of her 1975 counterpart.
Carla Gugino is cast as the female lead. She is a scientist with a questionable reputation who just happens get involved with two aliens and a cab driver. I’m not sure what is more unbelievable: Aliens in Las Vegas, or a Ph.D who looks like she does!
Overall the film is entertaining, most family friendly and well done. The Rock is a decent actor, and he may only be a few more films away from his “Top Gun” though any more than two scenes with Gary Marshall (who sells conspiracy nut much better than The Rock sells tough-guy cab driver) would have shown just how far he still has to go.
Race to Which Mountain is a worthy replacement for the original from 1975. That film was a low-budget Disney project that somehow delivered a great story and had a unique charm. This version updates the story to modern times with first-class special effects and excellent car chases. And they did not even give up all the charm of its predecessor to do it.
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