Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Race to Witch Mountain" - spoiler movie review

Although I remember liking the original film, "Escape to Witch Mountain", I'll admit that I don't remember all that much about it, so I couldn't really do that much of a comparison to the remake, entitled "Race to Witch Mountain". On its own merits, though, I really enjoyed the film. It had its share of great action, and it had a lot of funny moments.

Dwayne Johnson was quite good as Jack Bruno, the Las Vegas cabbie roped into helping the two alien kids get back to their ship.

AnnaSophia Robb plays the girl twin, Sara, and she was pretty good. I didn't realize she had played Violet Beauregarde in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". I did laugh that Sara kept calling him Jackbruno because that was the name he had on his ID in the cab.

AnnaSophia Robb as Violet Beauregarde

AnnaSophia Robb as Sara, Dwayne Johnson as Jack Bruno, and Alexander Ludwig as Seth

Carla Gugino was fine as Alex, the astrophysicist doctor or whatever she was who gets drawn into helping the kids as well. It was nice to see her looking like her, as opposed to her character in "Watchmen". I did find it amusing that she was in two high-profile movies and ended up directly competing with herself, since "Race to Witch Mountain" came out the week after "Watchmen".

Alex, Sara, Seth and Jackbruno

It was funny to see Tom Everett Scott (from "That Thing You Do") and Chris Marquette (from "Joan of Arcadia") in the film. I didn't know either were in this film, so it was a nice surprise.

The cameo by Cheech Marin was pretty funny.

And Garry Marshall had a nice extended cameo as Dr. Donald Harlan. I wonder if that's a tribute in any way to Harlan Ellison?

The really cool casting, though, was that they found small but significant roles for the two people who played the twins in the original movie. Kim Richards plays Tina (her character in the original film was named "Tia", which I had forgotten, but maybe they decided to change her name so that people wouldn't wonder why she was named "auntie"), a diner waitress who is a great help to the group as they try to escape. She has this wonderful moment with Sara. Ike Eisenmann plays Sheriff Antony (his character in the original film was named "Tony"), who is also instrumental in helping the group escape from the diner.

General thoughts on the movie:

Exactly how much money did Nationwide pay for their prominent product placement on the cab?

So Planet Hollywood has yet again agreed to be the site of a major motion picture, like they were in "21". I expect that's because they're not doing as well as some of the major casinos and so need the extra publicity and money, not to mention they would probably be more inclined to inconvenience their guests by having parts of a movie shot there.

I did laugh at the convention footage. I've been to those kind of "nutjob conventions" - they're fun, but they can be scary too. Furries. That's all I'm saying.

I also laughed when Sara was demonstrating her power of levitation to Jackbruno, and he said that people don't do that because it's creepy.

That scene with the car crashing into Seth was pretty awesome.

When Sara and Seth go through the refrigerator door, I was busting up at Jackbruno's line of "Don't go in the pimped out fridge Jack."

Siphon was pretty awesome, but then, he was part Predator, part Terminator and part Gort, so of course he'd be awesome.

The entrance to Witch Mountain so reminded me of the entrance to NORAD from "WarGames".

The fight between Jackbruno and Siphon on the ship was fun, but since we obviously knew that Jackbruno had to survive, the expected tension and suspense didn't work at all for me.

And in a rare case of actually figuring something out ahead of time, as Sara was saying goodbye to Jackbruno, she said she had one thing to ask of him. Before she said it, I knew that she wanted him to take care of Junkyard, the dog that helped them. Jackbruno will have to remember to buy meaty treats.

And yes, the end of the movie sets it up for a sequel.

I did notice that there weren't any scenes that I could remember where people actually died. It's a PG Disney film, so I guess that's to be expected. Things blow up, explosions happen at the convention, heck, a train rams into Siphon's flying machine, but they make it a point of saying that the conductor survived.

Overall, I had a really good time with this film. And yeah, I'd probably be up for a sequel.

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