Review in a Hurry:
In this reimagining of the '70s Witch Mountain
movies (and Alexander Key
's more cynical novel), two alien kids with super powers enlist the protection of an ex-con cabbie (Dwayne Johnson
) and in the process, create a new family classic the entire
family can actually enjoy.The Bigger Picture:
Remember when Disney wasn't just all about Hannah Montana and cartoons, but also cool sci-fi movies like TRON
? Those days are back. There's no forced moral lesson here or cheap sentiment-simply a good chase story, well told and fast paced enough to keep kids' attention.
But fear not, parents, the performances and in-jokes aimed at the older crowd will keep your attention, too. This isn't just a movie full of flying saucer pursuits; it's also one that assumes at least part of the audience will laugh at a Whitley Strieber
cameo or appreciate Garry Marshall
's performance as cantankerous conspiracy theorist "Dr. Harlan" all the more for knowing the cranky sci-fi author he's impersonating.
Unlike in the original, there's no surprise reveal-the otherworldly kids (Annasophia Robb
and Alexander Ludwig
) are clearly spacefarers right from the get-go. The biggest surprise here is that director Andy Fickman
has finally made a good movie. After the travesty that was The Game Plan
, no one in their right mind was all that anxious to see him team up with Johnson again. Yet the star is also at his best here.
Ever since his big-screen debut in The Mummy Returns
, the former "Rock" has taken roles that almost solely trade on his past careers as college football player and pro wrestler. As cabbie Jack Bruno-on the run from the mob, an evil alien soldier and government agents hunting the kids-he's playing an everyman-type for the first time (albeit a large, extremely funny everyman), finally showing a range he never fully explored before. You believe that kids would feel safe with him and that a beauty like Carla Gugino
would feel something more.
A major portion of the movie takes place in Las Vegas during a sci-fi convention, just like the recent comedy Fanboys
, yet Witch Mountain
nails the vibe of such things more effectively than the comedy that was ostensibly about them. These fanboys (and girls) save not only themselves, but the world as well, and when the likes of Johnson and Gugino let their inner nerds fly, you know that the geeks truly have inherited the earth. And beyond.The 180-a Second Opinion:
The cynic might, if he or she were so inclined, point out that at times this Race
plays like an extended infomercial for its own inevitable Disneyland ride. Also, why is it that advanced aliens are always baffled by the concept of surnames?