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Science Fiction - Race to Witch Mountain

Click picture to buy Race To Witch Mountain at Amazon.com
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Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, Ted Hartley
Director: Andy Fickman
Number of discs: 1
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Walt Disney Video
DVD Release Date: August 4, 2009
Run Time: 98 minutes

From the onset Race to Witch Mountain is clearly confused. Is it an action movie, is it a family movie, is it a comedy, is it an adventure?  The movies never quite resolves itself into one genre or even an acceptable mix genre yet still pulls of a decent family story for children ten and up. Younger children may have problem following the plot (there are some blanks that need to be filled in) and the level of violence at times is scary and not what one would normally expect from Disney.

It takes a while to get sorted exactly who / what taxi driver Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson) is in this movie. It is clear from the get go that he is having some trouble with some bad people but the ins and outs of the trouble are never made clear and his background is left in the dark long enough that his skills behind the wheel and dealing with trouble leave the viewer thinking there might be a lot more to him than meets the eye. Dwayne Johnson has proved his acting and comedy chops in the Mummy series of movies, Get Smart (where he was woefully misused) the charming Gridiron Gang and numerous other appearances on the small screen. The one thing that is suspect about Dwayne Johnson is his ability to choose projects or perhaps it is more his agents ability to find projects that will give him a chance to stretch a little. In a movie filled with moderately talented actors Johnson stands out in every respect from those around him.

The rest of the rather pedestrian cast is filled out by AnnaSophia Robb as the alien Sara, Alexander Ludwig as Seth (Sara’s brother) and Carla Gugino (who played Sally Juper in Watchmen) as Dr. Alex Friedman who is clearly better than the script but plays it right down the middle. There isn’t anything approaching an inspired anything in this movie. The CG is just par for the course, the script is messy but not out of hand, the direction could have been done by any after school movie of the week director – it is just plain – plain.

As movies go Race to Witch Mountain is a harmless timewaster that some kids might enjoy. As far as the all important question of should you add it to your home collection – pass. If you want a Witch Mountain movie think about the original Escape to Witch Mountain which may be dated and hokey but therein lies its charm.

Denis Bernicky

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