Race to Witch Mountain

Tagged: Film

Film (2009). Walt Disney Pictures presents in association with Gunn Films. Directed by Andy Fickman. Written by Mark Bomback and Matt Lopez, based on previous Disney adaptations of the novel Escape to Witch Mountain (1968) by Alexander Key. Cast includes Ike Eisenmann, Carla Gugino, Ciarán Hinds, Dwayne Johnson, Alexander Ludwig, Kim Richards, AnnaSophia Robb and Tom Woodruff Jr. 94 minutes. Colour.

A Las Vegas cab driver helps two Aliens forestall the Invasion of planet Earth.

Disney's third adaptation of Escape to Witch Mountain (1968) adds a murderous Robot, some villainous Mafiosi and a surrogate mom-and-pop match-up between discredited Scientist Dr Alex Friedman (Gugino) and former mob getaway driver Jack Bruno (Johnson) to the blond siblings with Psi Powers structure of Alexander Key's novel; details from the affectionately-remembered live-action feature Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) and the (less widely recollected) reworking for Television Escape to Witch Mountain (1995) are thrown in for good measure. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's reliably non-threatening "action Hero as exasperated dad" performance just about holds together the resulting slurry of Clichés concerning men-in-black hiding a crashed Spaceship at the "Witch Mountain" facility in California, and there is some cheerfully mischievous Satire of the contemporary propensity to conflate research into UFOs and SETI with conspiracy theories and Urban Legends along the way, but the longer the action of Race to Witch Mountain continues the more difficult it is to see why Children in SF Sara (Robb) and Seth (Ludwig) would require any assistance at all from the puny human Jack Bruno.

"You don't have the ability to use your full brain capacity," Sara tells Bruno of her powers of Telekinesis as the trio eludes both killer-automaton "The Siphon" (Woodruff Jr) and government agents led by sarcastic Villain Henry Burke (Hinds) in possession of a compact research-McGuffin designed to prevent the Xenoforming of the Earth by a form of Life on Other Worlds that is neither named nor elucidated. "My sister also has the gift of Telepathy," adds Seth, before revealing his own ability to "change his molecular density" (see Teleportation) at will. That Sara and Seth's mastery of terrestrial Technology extends to everything but Transportation does not freight the narrative with undue exposition and Dr Friedman's exasperated attempts at presenting scientific fact to an audience more concerned with crop-circles and clandestine Exogamy than with Physics are mined (with some success) for Humour until she too is won over by the demonstrations of the all-powerful blond children – "Interstellar travel is possible using Wormholes as a short-cut through space" – and begins describing a series of plot unlikely convergences as "chaos theory". The film is playful and undemanding froth in the mode of the Technothriller that succeeded in doubling its budget at the international box office.

Return from Witch Mountain (1978) followed on directly from the events of the first Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) by introducing new antagonists played by Bette Davis and Christopher Lee; Beyond Witch Mountain (1982) was a television pilot that failed to develop into a series. Race to Witch Mountain ignores the contents of both. Race to Witch Mountain: The Junior Novel (2009) is by James Ponti. [MD]

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