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Review: Race to Witch Mountain (2009)

Race to Witch Mountain (2009)

Directed by: Andy Fickman

Premise: A remake of Escape to Witch Mountain. A cab driver (Dwayne Johnson) escorts two human-looking extraterrestrials (AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig) to their spaceship while they are pursued by a rival alien and by government agents.

What Works: Race to Witch Mountain is intended as a light science fiction action adventure for children and family audiences and with that goal in mind the film mostly succeeds. It has near constant action and maintains a sense of fun and adventure, similar to Men in Black or Flight of the Navigator. Whatever success the film has is mostly due to the casting of child actors AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig as the teenage extraterrestrials. These two performers are definitely actors to watch for in future projects.

What Doesn’t: Much of Race to Witch Mountain is just barely competent. Although Dwayne Johnson is a likeable actor, he is not given much to do here except shuttle the teens back and forth. The story is nothing extraordinary and walks though predictable alien visitation scenarios seen in Men in Black and The Day the Earth Stood Still without adding anything new. There are lots of dropped characters and extraneous plot points, sending the film on tangents that don’t go anywhere. The biggest blunder of Race to Witch Mountain is the subplot of a violent, rival alien intent on killing the teens and stopping them from completing their mission. In most scenes the creature looks like it walked off the set of a 1950s drive-in science fiction film and the story does not play up the threat or the pursuit, instead opting for the creature to show up unannounced when it is convenient for the story. The rest of the special effects of the film are not particularly good either, even by the standards of television, much less a feature film.

Bottom Line: Race to Witch Mountain isn’t much of a race; it’s more like a stroll through science fiction clichés. The film may be entertaining to young children but that’s about it.

Episode: #232 (March 22, 2009)