It must be a strange feeling to be the star of a hit movie as a young teen, then to grow up and be in a remake of the same movie. This is precisely what Kim Richards and Iake Eissinmann do in “Race to Witch Mountain.” Richards and Eissinmann were the original Tia and Tony Malone, the stars of “Escape to Witch Mountain” in 1975 and the 1978 sequel “Return from Witch Mountain.” They are now starring, once again, in the 2009 film released March 13.
“Race to Witch Mountain,” as Director Andy Fickman puts it, is “a new chapter within the world of Witch Mountain” instead of a remake. Today’s film and the 1975 film have two entirely different plots and characters. In the older version the two children have been on earth for a while, but do not remember their childhood besides an accident at sea. Tia and Tony discover a map inside Tia’s purse that leads them to Witch Mountain. As they slowly gain their memories back, they come to the realization they are aliens.
In today’s film, Jack Bruno (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Get Smart”) is en ex-felon turned taxi driver who gets into his cab to find two young teenagers Sara (AnnaSophia Robb, “Bridge to Terabithia”) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig, “The Sandlot 3″) who ask for a ride. When he asks them where to, they point and say, “We must travel in that direction” and hand over $15,000 to get there. Bruno, feeling guilty after dropping them off, follows them into a creepy old house to tell them they overpaid and should get some money back. He finds the two children inside, on a mission to locate a device hidden in the house, but they are not the only ones. Bruno soon finds himself entangled in Sara and Seth’s lives, trying to keep them safe. This unexpected adventure has only one goal — to get Sara and Seth home safely because their planet, as well as ours, depends on it.
The acting in “Race to Witch Mountain” catches the audience’s attention, intriguing and reeling them into the story. The precise and almost old-fashioned dialogue Seth and Sara use as well as their personalities — Sara has confidence in the human race whereas Seth doesn’t trust the humans and doesn’t want their help — brings the audience into the film and creates sympathy for the two siblings. However, it is very hard to sympathize with Johnson’s character Bruno, or even relate to him at all. He is portrayed as a super badass, kicking everyone’s butt, but has terrible lines that are just foolish. It is much easier to connect with the other characters than it is with Johnson’s. Nevertheless, it isn’t entirely The Rock’s fault, it is possible that many actors couldn’t have done much with lines like “you tell your sister that on our planet reading minds is very rude,” and “don’t go in the pimped out fridge Jack”.
However, the visual effects and action scenes make up for poor script writing. There are a couple car chases where Bruno and the children are being pursued by a ruthless creature, Siphon, as well as government agents. The music featured in the film creates an intense atmosphere and makes the car chases more extreme and powerful. Another awesome scene is when Seth and Sara show the universe and their home, complete with black holes, stars and planets, surrounding the characters and encompassing the whole room.
Overall, this is the ideal movie to see with your family or younger children. The predictability that comes with many Disney movies as well as a happy ending will be embraced by those of a younger generation while the action, car chases and the visual effects will appeal to an older generation, but it is doubtful that people will “race” to the box office to see this film.
3 stars out of 5.