Saturday, March 14, 2009

Race to Witch Mountain (**)

Race to Witch Mountain.  100 mins.  PG.  Directed by Andy Fickman.  Written by Matt Lopez and Mark Bomback.  Starring Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, and Ciaran Hinds.

Disney raids its vaults yet again with this remake/reimagining of the old Witch Mountain movies.  And like most non-Pixar Disney product these days, it seems audience-tested to death, trying to appeal to as broad an audience as possible without offending anyone in the process.  This new Witch Mountain had the potential to be an exciting kids action movie.  One wishes they had brought on Jerry Bruckheimer to produce, and a director with more visual imagination than Andy Fickman, who previously directed Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in last year's The Game Plan.  I like The Rock a lot, but he's kind of stuck playing the wise-cracking sidekick here.  The two kids who play human-looking aliens are pretty terrible though, and Carla Gugino, though stunning, is wasted as a scientist who comes along for the ride.  Fickman wants this thing to play like a Tony Scott film, sort of an Enemy of the State-lite, but he's ill-equipped to deal with all the action (which is poorly choreographed) and the special effects (which are sub-par and almost embarrassing at times).  Race to Witch Mountain is frantic and action-packed, but for all the happenings on screen, nothing is really interesting.  Non-discerning kids might enjoy it, but it's a disappointing chore to sit through for everybody else.



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