Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Race to Witch Mountain|
Actors: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, Ted Hartley
Genres: Action & Adventure, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
A LAS VEGAS CABBIE ENLISTS THE HELP OF A UFO EXPERT TO PROTECT TWO SIBLINGS WITH PARANORMAL POWERS FROM THE CLUTCHES OF AN ORGANIZATION THAT WANTS TO USE THE KIDS FOR THEIR NEFARIOUS PLANS.
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wiredweird | Earth, or somewhere nearby | 03/14/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You'd think a Las Vegas cab driver had seen it all, especially with that UFO convention in town, right? Almost right, until two solemn children show up in his car. They have a wad of cash that they don't seem to understand very well, an urgent need to reach some desert destination, and a schoolbook way of speaking. It seems as legal as anything in Las Vegas and the money's green, so they're off.
So, a moment later, are the government goons in their black SUVs, in hot pursuit. The kids turn out to be something pretty special. The big bad gov guy calls them "illegal aliens," without stating just which laws they broke or just how alien. Then the chase is on with a few extras thrown in, like a killer robot and the only UFOlogist in the world who actually has a clue.
There's plenty of action, a bit of bloodless violence, some ominous but ambiguous threats against the kids, and a steady stream of one-liners to keep the mood from getting too grim. Maybe this isn't one for the ages, but it provides some popcorn entertainment where no one gets killed and everyone keeps their clothes on. Enjoy!
Blu-ray: An action-driven screenplay but overall, an enterta
Dennis A. Amith (kndy) | California | 08/06/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"More action than the original! A new step forward for the popular sci-fi Walt Disney film.
As a fan of the original 1975 film "Escape to Witch Mountain", I have to admit that I felt a bit standoffish about a retelling of the film series. With Dwayne Johnson cast as the primary character in the film, it was evident to me that the new film "Race to Witch Mountain" would be a more action-based film but over 35 years since the first film, you can only wonder how far special effects would go for and how campy but yet entertaining and family friendly, the new storyline would be.
Taking on the helm as director for "Race to Witch Mountain" would be Andy Fickman (producer for "Anaconda" and director of "The Game Plan", "Who's Your Daddy"). The screenplay would be written by Matt Lopez ("Bedtime Stories") and Mark Bomback ("Deception", "Live Free or Die Hard" and "Godsend"). Music by Trevor Rabin ("12 Rounds", "Get Smart", "National Treasure: Book of Secrets", etc.) and cinematography by Greg Gardiner ("Herbie Fully Loaded", "Elf", "New York Minute", etc.).
The film would star Dwyane Johnson ("The Scorpion King", "Gridiron Gang", "The Game Plan" and "Get Smart"), Carla Gugino ("Sin City", "American Gangster", "The One", etc.), AnnaSophia Robb ("Bridge to Terabithia", "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Jumper"), Alexander Ludwig ("The Sandlot 3 and "A Little Thing Called Murder"), Ciaran Hinds ("The Sum of All Fears", "Lara Coft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life", "The Phantom of the Opera", etc.) and Garry Marshall ("Pretty Woman", "Chicken Little" and "Murphy Brown").
"Race to Witch Mountain" continues Disney's dedication of a 3-Disc release with the Blu-ray, DVD version of the film and a Digital Copy.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Race to Witch Mountain" is featured in 1080p High Definition (with an aspect ratio of 2:40:1). Overall, picture quality is good but where many other Walt Disney films tend to utilize more daylight scenes, "Race to Witch Mountain" is shot indoors in dark spaces or outdoors during the night. There are daylight scenes but more the most part, you find the main characters trying to utilize darkness in order to give a sense of the group trying to hide out. So, for the most part, the film is not exactly vibrant or colorful but you can expect a lot of blacks and blues being utilized during the darker scenes in the film.
During the daylight scenes, there is a little softness (not by digital noise reduction) but picture quality is not as vibrant as other recently released live-action Disney-related films but I think the somewhat muted colors was a personal decision by cinematographer Greg Gardiner. But overall, picture quality is good, it's just a film that leans more towards darkness with a lot of shadows.
As for audio quality, the audio is well done. The English 5.1 DTS-HD lossless soundtrack really capture the action. There were several scenes that I just had to replay because it really shook my living room (a scene where Jack and the kids are riding on the railroad tracks), there is serious LFE in this film and you can expect your subwoofer to be utilized. Where the dialogue is crisp and clear through the center and front channels, there is also a lot of surround and rear surround usage during the action scenes.
Frankly speaking, "Race to Witch Mountain" was quite pleasing to listen to. It's an aggressive soundtrack and maybe not as aggressive as a film like "Transformers" or "Quantum of Solace" but still a lossless soundtrack that you can expect metal shrieking, car crashes and deep explosions that you can feel through seat. This is one of the most aggressive lossless soundtracks I have heard from Disney (for a live-action film) thus far.
Subtitles are featured in English SDH, French and Spanish.
"Race to Witch Mountain" comes with the following special features presented in HD and standard with English 2.0 Dolby Digital audio:
* Deleted Scenes - (23:21) Optional introduction by Director Andy Fickman, the following deleted scenes are featured: Intro, Extended Opening Ray's, Extended Ray's Telekinesis, Jack Beats Up Zacha, Tina Meets Siphon, Sara Foils Security Fence, Alex Foils Guard, Extended Goodbye Scene and the Original Ending. It's important to note that the alternate ending which is literally an extended version is quite important and would build up to a sequel. Personally, the alternative ending would have worked but Director Andy Fickman decided to keep it simple which is understandable.
* Bloopers - (3:37) The blooper reel featuring Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig and Garry Marshall having fun and messing up their lines.
* Backstage Disney - (8:20) Director Andy Fickman reveals hidden references to the original movies "Escape to Witch Mountain" and "Return from Witch Mountain" and other Disney tie-ins.
* Learn How to Take Your Favorite Movies on a Go - (1:04) Your typical Disney information trailer of what digital copy is.
With the recent release of "Escape to Witch Mountain" and "Return from Witch Mountain" on DVD, it was good to rewatch the classic films since so much time has passed since I watched those two films and prepare me for "Race to Witch Mountain".
For the most part, "Race to Witch Mountain" has no similarities to the original with the exception that the antagonist are going after the children. And also, in this case, also Jack Bruno. The other major difference is that the children in "Escape to Witch Mountain" are orphans who just want a loving family and are blessed with supernatural abilities which they don't know why. It's not revealed of what they are until the end of the film, whereas "Race to Witch Mountain" reveals what the kids are right after the beginning and from then on the film becomes more action-based and a more aggressive cat vs. mouse type of film.
So, needless to say, the film is not the same type of film that children in the 1970's grew up with. Where the older films were definitely crafted as innocent family films, "Race to Witch Mountain" is a film that was created to appeal to both children and adults. You know that with Dwayne Johnson, you're going to see some major butt kicking and with these two extraterrestrial kids, really take advantage of their power and of course, with modern technology, definitely giving the film a much more modern spin to their powers, the look of their spacecraft and of course, everything looks quite slick.
It's important to note that despite the film being much different than the previous two films, director Andy Fickman who was a big fan of the original knew that there should be some tie-in to the original. So, the original characters that played Tony (Ike Eisenmann) and Tia (Kim Richards) in the first two films, have a significant part in this film rather than short few second cameos. Also, Fickman made sure to put a lot of references of the original film, in this new film as well (note: there is a special feature dedicated to director Andy Fickman showing the various homage paid to the original film).
For parents who are wondering if the film is safe, I watched this film with my six year old and we both enjoyed the film. If anything, its the aggressive soundtrack that I think that freaked him out (of course, I loved it) because there are plenty of explosions and action sequences that will utilize your home theater but might be a bit too much for the kids. There are scenes with the kids being manhandled by the alien Siphon and since it is an action film, there is many chase scenes and fighting. So, there is violence in that regard. But for the most part, the film doesn't show any blood. In fact, despite the beating Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson) goes through, he's not bruised and bloody. Disney made sure the film is kept tame for families to watch.
Overall, I understand that if some parents who felt the wholesomeness of the original films has been thrown out the door with this new film "Race to Witch Mountain". Personally, I enjoyed this film and enjoyed the hidden tie-ins of the original film and to see the original talent in this film... that was fun!
But this is a more action-driven film that focuses on a man who has had his troubles in the past, keeping his promise in making sure that these kids get to their destination. Of course, Dwayne Johnson's Jack Bruno is no Eddie Albert's Jason O'Day but there is a feeling of guardianship that both Jack and Dr. Alex Friedman feel for the children and are willing to sacrifice their own lives to protect them.
As for the Blu-ray release, "Race to Witch Mountain" sports one of the most aggressive Disney lossless soundtracks that I have heard so far. But it's also important to note that the picture quality was good but not as magnificent and unlike other Disney releases on Blu-ray, there are far less special features included. But you do get the two other discs which include a DVD and a digital copy of the film.
"Race to Witch Mountain" is an enjoyable film and definitely a step forward in bringing the "Witch Mountain" to a more modern time for today's audiences. But for those who enjoyed "Escape to Witch Mountain", personally I feel that director Andy Fickman did the best thing by leaving the original alone and let that film be known for its merit and not copy it but showing his own respect for the original film film his way and it worked. I can also understand those who loved the originals, as they were more character driven, feel-good family storylines whereas this film goes in another direction and focuses primarily on the action. And it's also important to note that the sequel "Return from Witch Mountain" is also a film that is very different from the original film and a bit more darker in its storyline as well. So, in a way all three "Witch Mountain" films are quite different in presentation but yet they all retain a sense of family, it's just presented differently.
Overall, "Race to Witch Mountain" is a fun, enjoyable film definitely worth recommending!"
Two Kids, a Wade of Cash, and All Kinds of Trouble
Mark Baker | Santa Clarita, CA United States | 08/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jack Bruno (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is a cab driver. He has a shady past but is trying to put all that behind him. It's time for the annual science fiction convention in Las Vegas, which means his cab is filled with weirdos, including Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino), one of the speakers.
Yet the trouble comes in the forms of two teenagers. Seth (Alexander Ludwig) and Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) appear in his cab at the start of one shift. They offer him a wad of cash and ask to be taken to an undisclosed location. When they arrive, Jack discovers it is an abandoned cabin in the middle of the nowhere. Not wanting to leave them alone, he discovers something he never imagined. Is he in over his head? Can he help Seth and Sara complete their mission?
I hadn't watched the originals growing up, but I did watch them earlier this year to prepare for this one hitting theaters. It turns out it really didn't matter. They could have slapped any name on this and it would have been just as enjoyable. That's not saying they didn't acknowledge their roots. Original Witch Mountain kids Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann make cameos in a diner scene as Tina and Anthony. There are another couple fun nods to the original.
The movie got going pretty quickly and only increased in intensity from there. Our heroes have several different groups hunting them, so there is never a dull moments. Yet the comic moments are plentiful as well, especially any time Garry Marshall is around as a science fiction writer. And the movie made me truly care for these characters.
The special effects were impressive with several truly mouth dropping moments. The preview pretty much gave those away, but I still loved them. There is plenty of action and stunts, too, which are probably what earned the movie its PG rating. It is intense at times, so kids who frighten easily should steer clear. Every one will enjoy it.
I do have two minor gripes about the movie. The first is a scene that preaches to us about global warming. It feels a little out of place and gratuitous instead of a real part of the film. Secondly, a sub-plot about Jack's past coming back to get him is dropped near the end.
Just so you know, there are a few scenes during the credits you'll want to catch.
Despite the dropped plot point, I had a smile on my face when the movie was over. In fact, I was kind of surprised at just how much I enjoyed it. If you are at all interested in seeing it, do. You'll have a good time with an enjoyable movie."
"Don't go in the pimped-out fridge, Jack."
H. Bala | Carson - hey, we have an IKEA store! - CA USA | 07/18/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As I continue to smell what the Rock is cooking, it strikes me that it's been a while since I've thought of him as a wrestler in WWE. Nowadays dude is doing big things in Hollywood. The trend seems to be that wrestlers don't become movie stars, their over-the-top ring personas being hard to translate into serviceable movie acting chops. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan both fell on their faces, and John Cena doesn't impress me. Before the Rock, I think only 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper had successfully parlayed his wrestling cachet into a noteworthy flick (and that would be John Carpenter's cult classic They Live). Oh, and Andre the Giant had a small cute part in the quite awesome The Princess Bride (20th Anniversary Edition).
But it's looking more and more as if Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson really is here to stay as an actor and a big box office draw, and never mind that he seems to have put the people's eyebrow on ice. RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN is his latest flick with Disney (after The Game Plan (Widescreen Edition)), and sure enough it garnered the number one spot in its first week of theatrical release. Not that it's so overwhelmingly a terrific picture, mind you. It's got its flaws. Suffice to say that overall I liked enough about it to give it a semi-warm recommendation. But the key reason the movie works is that the Rock is in the thing. As always the Rock brings in his reliable physicality, along with a certain comfort level in front of the camera and an easy-going sense of humor.
Did you know there were three Witch Mountain pictures before this one? I grew up on Escape to Witch Mountain Special Edition (1975) and Return from Witch Mountain Special Edition (1978), and as a kid I had a serious crush on Kim Richards who played Tia (I remember having one on Pippi Longstocking, as well). So it's particularly gratifying to see Kim Richards here in a cameo role as a helpful diner waitress. Ike Eisenmann, who played her brother Tony, also resurfaces as a sheriff in the same scene. I missed out on the third Witch Mountain project, a failed pilot that aired on the Wonderful World of Disney and was intended to lead into a television show, except that the series never got off the ground. Anyway, back on point...
I think the best word to describe RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN is "nice." It's a nice sci-fi adventure movie for the family, but it won't blow you away with its scope or special effects or acting. But neither does it suck arse. It's middle of the road stuff, with the Rock turning in another ingratiating performance, Carla Gugino again being criminally underused, and the kid actors showing enough range to sorta kinda make you care about what happens to them. There's nothing here that's too disturbing or violent or inappropriate for de kids. Yeah, it's nice. It really could've used more of an edge.
Dwayne Johnson plays Jack Bruno, a former wheelman for the Las Vegas mob but currently a cabbie in Sin City. Bruno's trying to stay on the straight, even though his shady past keeps trying to pull him back in. So any more grief is not what he needs. It's what he gets, though, when two odd kids suddenly show up in the back seat of his cab, sporting formal speech patterns and with a desert destination in mind and waving fistfuls of cha-ching. And there goes Jack Bruno, embarking on a very strange, very dangerous journey.
If you've caught the trailer or seen the prior Witch Mountain films, then it's no spoiler that the two kids, Sara and Seth, turn out to be extra-terrestrial children. Sara is a telepath who also happens to be telekinetic. Seth is able to adjust his molecular density and can therefore phase thru solid objects or stop an SUV cold with his superdense body. Sara and Seth's planet is dying, and they've come to Earth to retrieve their scientist parents' rejuvenation device. This device, hidden in an isolated cabin in the Nevadan desert, can in theory save their world. However, their planet's military has its own pretty insidious plans for Earth.
Jack Bruno, a bit (or a lot) out of his depth, still finds himself channeling his inner dad or inner older brother. That, or he's a really dedicated taxi driver because the man intends to carry on until the kids get home, and that means making sure Sara and Seth end up in their spacecraft, which is currently being heavily guarded and poked and prodded by the government in full-on paranoid mode. The movie is pretty much Bruno and the kids and, later on, a sexy down-and-out astrophycisist (Carla Gugino, natch!) scrambling like crazy and trying to stay one step ahead of an unstoppable alien assassin, a shady government agency focusing on extraterrestrial threats, and Bruno's former hoodlum associates.
As said, the special effects are decent, and I got a nostalgic kick out of the diner scene. The Las Vegas science convention sequences are also a hoot, even if I feel that the movie could've mined more comedic/satiric gold out of those scenarios. An unexpectedly touching emotional core is built around the rapport and warm interplay between Dwayne Johnson and AnnaSophia Robb, who was so good in Bridge to Terabithia (Widescreen Edition) - and she does pretty okay here as well, as the more appealing kid alien. Sorry to say, but Alexander Ludwig as Seth remained somewhat of a cold fish.
Disney, the bastion of fluffy family friendly fare, plays it safe, and the result is a tepidness to the film, a lack of punch, despite all the glitzy swagger onscreen. I saw RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN during an eighteen hour overseas flight, and I'm forever grateful that it kept me engaged enough that I wasn't as miserable as I would've been (because I really loathe flying!). The film is basically an extended chase scene, with several pit stops made so that the Rock and the kids can bond and the Rock can crack jokes. In the final say, I had fun in watching it, and wouldn't say no to a sequel, which going by how the movie ends (check out the end credits), seems very likely. The Witch Mountain franchise continues..."