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Race To Witch Mountain

Race To Witch Mountain

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

THE title speaks volumes for what to expect from this latest Disney adventure, a contemporary re-imagining of ’70s hits Escape To Witch Mountain and its sequel Return To Witch Mountain.

But while certainly fast-moving, Andy Fickman’s movie forgets to deliver a story that’s worth investing much time in… or characters for that matter.

The result is a loud, brash, repetitive boys-own adventure that’s hugely derivative of other films and over-populated by cliche-ridden characters.

Las Vegas cab driver Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson) is bidding to keep one step ahead of a local crime boss when he inadvertently ‘picks up’ two teenagers, Sara and Seth (AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig) who request that he take them out into the middle of the desert.

Initially reluctant to do so, Bruno nevertheless agrees and quickly finds himself pursued by mystery government agents, a rogue extra-terrestrial being and some ghosts from his past, while trying to work out just where his new teenage companions came from.

Race To Witch Mountain does have a couple of factors in its favour that prevent it from becoming a complete write-off – namely some smart early car crashes and two appealing performances from Johnson and the ever-reliable Ciaran Hinds as a chasing agent.

But the longer the film lasts, the less interest value it offers as characters have the habit of going in circles as they attempt to get back to their spaceship and save the Earth.

The kids, while deliberately distanced and other-worldly, never really allow audiences to warm to them, while numerous supporting characters aren’t really given the time they need to rise above the stereotypes (witness Carla Gugino’s vapid love interest, or Garry Marshall’s conspiracy theorist).

The final, drawn out scenes, meanwhile, contain nods to everything from James Bond’s Moonraker to Spielberg’s Close Encounters.

Effects-wise, the on-screen mayhem will doubtless impress the really young kids, while Johnson’s charisma won’t be lost on the grown-ups.

But you emerge with the feeling that this is a pointless update that’s more irritating than inspired. You may well emerge afterwards suffering from severe race fatigue.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 98mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: August 24, 2009