'Race to Witch Mountain (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)'
(Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, et al / 3-Disc Blu ray / PG / 2009 / Disney)
Overview: A tough-talking cab driver joins forces with otherworldly siblings to stop a
global disaster in 'Race to Witch Mountain,' coming to Blu-ray™ Hi-def and DVD on August 4, 2009 from
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
DVD Verdict: "Race to Witch Mountain" is just fine for the audience it was intended for. It has pretty much everything younger kids would enjoy: aliens disguised as teenagers, cool special effects, a few chase sequences, funny characters, funny dialogue, and even Dwayne Johnson (who doesn't seem to like being called The Rock anymore, even though it was his professional wrestling name for many years). Is this to suggest that adults won't respond to it? Probably, although it might attract those who saw the original 1975 film "Escape to Witch Mountain," especially since this remake includes cameo appearances by Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann.
The story revolves around a Las Vegas cab driver named Jack Bruno (Johnson), who's trying to go straight after getting involved with a notorious crime boss. One day, he gets two unexpected fares: Sara (AnnaShophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig), siblings from another planet who are trying to recover their crashed spaceship and return to their home planet. As Jack quickly learns, they each possess incredible abilities. Sara can read minds and mentally communicate with dogs. She can also manipulate inanimate and electronic objects, as seen when she withdraws $15,000 in cash from an ATM. Seth can alter the density of his body at a molecular level, which means he can pass through solid objects one minute and withstand the force of a speeding vehicle the next.
Already hot on their trail is a relentless government agent named Henry Burke (Ciarán Hinds), who, like all villains in such stories, wants to capture them and run a series of experiments. In order to steer clear of him, Jack, Sara, and Seth turn to Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino), a scientist whose theories on the existence of extra terrestrial life are laughed at, even by a group of UFO nuts at a Vegas sci-fi convention. Alex then turns to Dr. Donald Harlan (Garry Marshall), the kind of person who not only believes in aliens, but is also convinced that abductions and crop circles and mind probes are real. He provides Alex, Jack, and the siblings with maps and photos of Witch Mountain, a heavily fortified rock protrusion where it seems the spaceship is being held.
As it turns out, Sara and Seth have more to worry about than greedy government agents. For reasons I won't reveal, a ruthless alien assassin known as a Siphon is sent to stop them from returning to their planet. Other than the fact that this Siphon wears a very futuristic spacesuit, drives a small hovercraft, and shoots lasers, there really isn't much to this character. Maybe it would have been better to eliminate this subplot altogether and just have Burke be the main villain. That way, more time could have been spent on the development of Jack. We know he has a criminal record. We know he got mixed up with a crime boss. We know he wants to clean up his act and earn honest money. But why is he helping Sara and Seth? Is there a reason why he decided to get involved?
Nevertheless, there is an innocence to this movie that's somewhat charming. In spite of the chase scenes, the laser blasts, and the threat of government experiments, "Race to Witch Mountain" is not a death and destruction extravaganza. Even occasional appearances by mafia henchmen are treated almost as playful interludes. If anything, the film is more interested in creating an atmosphere of adventure and fun, especially in terms of Sara and Seth, who are delightfully ignorant in the ways of human customs and American vernacular. It does get tiresome after a while, but at least they sound like they come from another world. They don't look much like they come from another world, but then again, who's to say that aliens look any different from humans? For all we know, humanoids may be the only high-functioning beings populating the universe. [CP] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Deleted Scenes - With commentary by director Andy Fickman
Bloopers - Dwayne Johnson and the cast crack up over on-set mistakes
Dylan & Cole Sprouse: Blu-ray™ Is Suite!
Learn How To Take Your Favorite Movies On The Go
Exclusive Blu-ray Combo Pack bonus features include:
BACKSTAGE DISNEY: Which Mountain? - Director Andy Fickman reveals the film’s hidden references to the original movies, Escape to Witch Mountain and Return from Witch Mountain
D-Box - Viewers equipped with a D-BOX™ Integrated Motion System will be able to experience a whole new dimension while watching this movie