Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Race to Witch Mountain

Race to Witch Mountain

Review by Patrick Hodges

When it comes to family action/adventure movies, you can usually count on Disney to provide a lot of harmless fun, and Race to Witch Mountain is no exception.  It’s certainly not the greatest film in the studio’s long history, but neither is it the worst.  It’s good, solid, harmless entertainment.

It’s been interesting to follow Dwayne Johnson’s career.  From star college football player to becoming the immensely popular wrestler known as “The Rock”, to one of the more bankable go-to guys for action entertainment.  Two years ago, he proved he could lead a Disney family comedy to success with The Game Plan, and his turn as The Scorpion King certainly proved that he was no slouch at action. 

In this film, Johnson (who has officially dropped “The Rock” from his on-screen credit name) plays Las Vegas cabbie Jack Bruno, an ex-con who used to drive for a local mob boss.  Having soured on the life of a criminal, he is trying to earn an honest living, despite the fact that his old employer is against the idea of his “quitting”, and sends him some 300-pound reminders to resume his old position.  He is even more surprised when a couple of kids named Sarah and Seth (Annasophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig) appear, seemingly out of nowhere, in the back of his cab.

The kids, as he comes to find out, are actually aliens, who are on Earth to retrieve some information vital to the survival of their home planet, as well as their spacecraft, which has been seized by the government and is being held at a secret military base underneath the mysterious Witch Mountain.  The government baddies are led by Henry Burke, who, naturally, wants to capture the kids in the name of “national security”.

The film is basically a series of chases and escapes.  Running from the government, Jack’s former cohorts and an intergalactic super-soldier known as Siphon (though I prefer to call him, given his body armor and quiet demeanor, the “Predanator”), who was sent to (lethally) prevent the kids from completing their mission.  Along the way, they pick up a disgraced astrophysicist (Carla Gugino), who has been relegated to lecturing to the lunatic fringe at UFO conventions.

Johnson does a decent enough job in the role, mixing brotherly concern with exasperation in just the right measure.  Robb (one of my favorite rising young actresses) and Ludwig are also decent, though playing “mostly emotionless alien” is not really that difficult.  Gugino’s character, I felt, was mostly window dressing, but her presence still lent a balance to the film.  It’s Disney, so you’ll probably not be surprised to hear that movie ends predictably, with definite room for a sequel. 

If you have kids, they’ll probably enjoy this film.  Good, clean, harmless fun, and not burdened with a lengthy run-time.  This being a Disney film, were you really expecting anything less?

3 ½ / 5 stars

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