As Disney remakes go, Race to Witch Mountain is no Flubber. What it is is aptly titled, as the action rarely stops in this fast-paced junior sci-fi romp. From its old school opening credits to its “let’s set up a sequel” conclusion, director Andy Fickman (The Game Plan) keeps the momentum going, lest you have a chance to scrutinize the plot too closely. The result is a whiz-bang throwback to the gee-whiz science fiction flicks of the pre-Star Wars 70’s, a perfectly timed spring break distraction for the PG-crowd too young to get in to Watchmen.
With a script by Matt Lopez and Mark Bomback (based, as was the original Escape to Witch Mountain, on the novel by Alexander Key), Race to Witch Mountain updates the familiar story to the present day and, cleverly, sets it in Las Vegas, where such set pieces as a UFO convention and the Area 51-ish title structure are naturally close at hand. Dwayne Johnson (the artist formerly known as “The Rock” and most recently known as “The Rock Obama”) plays Jack Bruno, a burly ex-con-turned-Sin City cab driver whose latest fare — a pair of tow-headed teens named Seth and Sara (The Seeker: The Dark is Rising’s Alexander Ludwig and Bridge to Terabithia’s AnnaSophia Robb) — drag him into the adventure of his life.
Following in the monotone footsteps of the original’s Tony and Tia, Seth and Sara are unlike any kids on Earth … fittingly, as they are actually from outer space. Empowered with X-Men-ish abilities like phasing, telekinesis and telepathy, the extra-terrestrial siblings have been sent to our planet by their unseen parents to retrieve crucial data that will save their world, as well as prevent ours from being destroyed by a nasty alien threat.
Seth and Sara’s mission is jeopardized on two fronts this go round; not only must they contend with a Terminator-like predator (or is that Predator-like terminator?) sent by their own planet’s corrupt military to stop them at whatever cost, they also must retrieve their crash-landed spaceship from the so-called Witch Mountain. Depicted as a craggy monolith in the Nevada desert, the titular peak hides a secret US government base where a squadron of Men in Black types have taken the psi-kids’ downed flying saucer. Needless to say, they are eager to get their hands (and scientific research equipment) on the ship’s crew as well ...
UPDATE: Race to Witch Mountain is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom Amazon.com.
Click here to continue reading my Toon Talk review of Race to Witch Mountain at LaughingPlace.com.