Review by Vives Anunciacion
March 16, 2009
Race to Witch Mountain
Directed by Andy Fickman
I thought I’d give this a try since it starred “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson. I thought it’d be funny – but nooo. Except for Taken, which was okay in its Bourne-esque attempts, nothing showing in theaters was worth seeing last weekend.
A note for readers to contemplate on the things they read online:
The synopsis according to IMDB is thus:
A UFO expert enlists the help of a cabbie to protect two siblings with paranormal powers from the clutches of an organization that wants to use the kids for their nefarious plans.
Now compare Rottentomatoes’ synopsis:
Disney restarts their beloved Witch Mountain franchise with this family-friendly adventure. Dwayne Johnson (THE GAME PLAN) stars as a taxi driver who gets more than get bargained for when he picks up two teen runaways (AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig). Not only does the pair possess supernatural powers, but they’re also trying desperately to escape people who have made them their targets.
This is mine:
Reimagined from a 1975 family film about orphaned siblings with supernatural powers and dubious parentage (Escape to Witch Mountain), the new movie is about a couple of alien siblings (AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig) who enlist the aid of former mafia-wheel-man-turned-cab-driver Jack Bruno (Johnson) to search for a device that will help the aliens heal their dying planet. Also in their aid is astrophysicist Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino).
The movie is about two teenagers who take a cab ride (Bruno’s) going into the middle of nowhere, where they retrieve a gadget thingy but chance upon an extraterrestrial assassin who runs after them with laser guns. They head back to Vegas, seeking the aid of Dr. Friedman (Gugino) to find their spaceship which was captured by pushy, gun-armed government men (led by Ciarán Hinds). The chase leads everyone to Witch Mountain.
While IMDB got the object-subject skewed (plus the fact that Gugino’s character isn’t a UFO “expert”), rottentomatoes has one word that makes their synopsis interesting: franchise.
OK. The Movie.
Some critic wrote that since it’s a chase film, therefore some violence, explosions and a lot of running is involved. True. I say a LOT of it. For a family-oriented film, this one has LOTS of gunfire, laser and regular kind, and a considerable bodycount (tell me those anonymous soldiers didn’t impliedly die).
This plot-oriented film has nothing – NOTHING – going on either amusing or endearing or emotionally engaging about the four main characters. Johnson tries to be kooky, his mannerisms different from his previous comedies (note the scene with Junkyard the dog asking to pee) that he seems to have been possessed by a different person. The mannerisms and his large frame don’t seem to match.
(Trivia: the Sheriff and the Waitress were the kids in the original movie)
But the most striking crime this caper committed is its narrow portrayal of scientists and UFO believers that they are either: A) evil manipulative heartless men (in the case of the federal men in gigantic black SUVs); or B) quirky, jumpy, half-crazy astrophysicists who seem to put their finger on every subject related to their field and not have a true specific specialization (established early in undergrad years, as in the case of this former scientist-turned-film critic); OR C) all-out nutjobs who attend UFO conventions. Dear sirs, some people take alien abductions seriously, and many of those are sane, logical, intelligent people. For a film about aliens, this portrays alien-belief as a laughing matter. Putting famous alien-abduction author Whitley Strieber in cameo and making references to all things sci-fi (“Trust no one?”) further highlights this movie as a mere gag show with a lot of laser lights.
Franchise? Skip the next one, please.