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Race to Witch Mountain Poster

The Advocate

Race to Witch Mountain

Reviewed by Heather West

"...a decent way to kill 90 minutes, full of the feel-good essentials that fans of Disney have come to expect. Just don’t expect more."

Disney’s latest sci-fi flick is not a remake of the 1975 film Escape to Witch Mountain, the 1995 made-for-television film Escape to Witch Mountain, nor even an adaption of the original Alexander Key novel. In fact, the only similarity between Race to Witch Mountain and its predecessors is that two alien kids with paranormal abilities have crashed-landed on Earth – and are trying to find their way home.

The film opens with Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock), a cynical taxi driver who wears his disdain with the supernatural like a medal of honor. But when siblings Seth and Sara (Alexander Ludwig and AnnaSophia Robb) offer him $3000 to take them to an abandoned shack in the desert, Jack starts to suspect that they’re more than teenage runaways. Soon, with the help of scientist Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino) Jack finds himself on a quest to deliver the kids to Witch Mountain, along with the only thing that can save the Earth from certain destruction.

Despite spectacular effects, thrilling chase scenes and the perfunctory love plot, the question that haunted me throughout the film was “why?” “Why do we need other movie about potential alien invasions” and “Why does the bad guy always have to be some shady government organization” and “Why do Seth and Sara seem to possess everything but the ability to defend themselves?” But the greatest unexplained phenomenon was Jack Bruno’s character. The film attempts to give him a sympathetic backstory: A former gangster, Jack is struggling to lead an honest life but still pursued by the demons of his past. Nevertheless, Jack’s reasons for helping Seth and Sara are largely unexplored. If he’s really as cynical as he wants us to believe, then there should have been a visible transformation. Instead, Jack goes from an unwilling accomplice to a self-sacrificing guardian in less than a minute – and we never know why. He helps Seth and Sara because he’s the “good guy” and as far as Disney is concerned, that’s all we need to know.

Little of this will matter to younger audiences, which is probably for the best. Overall, Race to Witch Mountain is a decent way to kill 90 minutes, full of the feel-good essentials that fans of Disney have come to expect. Just don’t expect more.

*for any concerned parents, the reference to “Witch Mountain” in the title is a just a name for that location and has no other bearing on the story.

MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of action and violence, frightening and dangerous situations, and some thematic elements.

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Heather West is a sophomore English and Communications major, who firmly believes in the concept of the Renaissance man (or woman, in her case). In that vein, her interests include everything from piano, Broadway, and gospel choir to snowboarding, missionary work, and filmmaking. Her writing is inspired by her reading; her favorite authors are Brian Jacques, Bill Myers, Timothy Zahn, G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Kenneth Grahame, Chaim Potok, Isaac Asimov, and Lloyd Alexander. While she aspires to be a novelist and screenwriter, Heather equally enjoys journalism, particularly in the areas of film and music. Her dream job is creating clean, thought-provoking media that will point people back to God. She has written for Infuze Magazine, more recently for SoulAudio.com, and is thrilled to start writing for TitleTrakk!