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Video Reviews

Plugged In Rating
MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Kids, Mystery/Suspense, Action/Adventure
Cast
Dwayne Johnson as Jack Bruno; AnnaSophia Robb as Sara; Alexander Ludwig as Seth; Carla Gugino as Dr. Alex Friedman
Director
Andy Fickman (The Game Plan, She's the Man)
Distributor
Walt Disney
Reviewer
Bob Hoose
Race to Witch Mountain

Race to Witch Mountain

There aren't any witches on this Disney mountain. Just lots of action, aliens, a flying saucer and The Rock.

Jack is a rock-jawed Joe who's had his share of trouble as a wheelman for the Las Vegas mob. But now he's determined to straighten up and fly right. All he wants to do is drive his cab and live a normal life—which isn't so easy in Las Vegas with all the "crazies" who show up in his back seat.

Especially since the UFO convention came to town.

Then things ratchet up from crazy to out of this world when teen siblings Sara and Seth pop up. All of a sudden people are shooting at him. And not just people. An armor-clad bounty hunter from outer space shows up to unleash laser blasts in his direction, too!

By this point, Jack has put two and two together and realizes that these kids aren't just saying they're aliens—like all those UFO fanatics—these two really are aliens. They're on a quest to gather research that will save their withering planet. And the blond-haired brother and sister also want to convince their civilization's leaders that they don't have to take over Earth in the process. (Which sounds like a great idea to Jack.)

The space kids have some levitating and walk-through-walls superpowers on tap to help out along the way. But mostly it's up to Jack to punch, duck, sneak and drive really fast in order to outfox government agents, local thugs and a high-powered alien predator. Of course, he needs to also figure out how to get his charges into a government base and retrieve their spaceship.

Where's Captain Kirk when you need him?

Positive Elements

Sara and Seth's motives seem pure, never mind that they're part of a big bad alien race bent on attacking Earth. They explain that what they've come to do is retrieve their parents' research and stop the intergalactic assault.

Even though Jack's instincts tell him not to get involved with Seth and Sara's troubles, his conscience won't let him walk away without helping the seemingly defenseless teens. Later, he repeatedly puts his life on the line to save them. And though Seth initially believes all humans to be untrustworthy, Jack's consistent, selfless actions convince him otherwise. The boy then apologizes for his mistrust.

Spiritual Content

Seth quotes Buddha, saying, "You are what you think you are." A thug tells Jack that he hates seeing him waste "God-given talents." "Sin City" is used as a stand-in for Las Vegas.

Jack and the kids go to an astrophysicist, Dr. Friedman, for help. She explains that the events that pulled them all together were a "predetermined set of circumstances," but she attributes them to chaos theory.

Sexual Content

Women wear tight tops—a few of which reveal midriffs.

Violent Content

We're not asked to directly watch anybody die, but we do see quite a lot of action-violence, some of which results in death. Men in Black-style agents are constantly on Jack's and the kids' heels. And on several occasions these pursuers pull out handguns and assault rifles to fill the air with bullets. Lasers, rockets and explosions send people flying through the air in every direction when an alien bounty hunter called a Siphon is added to the mix.

A group of 20 or so soldiers accidentally open fire on Jack, Seth, Sara and Dr. Friedman. In slo-mo, the bullets bounce harmlessly off their bodies due to Seth's super-control of molecular density. The government agents begin a dangerous, experimental process on Sara and Seth that we're told might kill them.

Through it all, Jack refuses to pick up a gun and shoot back. What he's not averse to using are his bare knuckles. He goes mano a mano with agents, scientists and mob thugs—pummeling heads and bodies. He even goes up against the Siphon. The Siphon bats him aside like a fly. The rest of his foes hit him, bash him, bludgeon him and smash his head into a wall. But for all that, our hero walks away with nothing more than a bruised scrape over one eye.

Car chases result in lots of crushed and crumpled sheet metal. A standout crash involves Seth slipping through the back of the cab and smashing his super-dense body into a pursuing SUV. The vehicle crumples like a soda can that's been hit with a sledgehammer.

One of the biggest mash-ups involves a train and a spacecraft that run head-on into each other in a tunnel. The result is a charred pile of twisted metal and train cars.

Crude or Profane Language

Someone says that the Witch Mountain base is fortified "up the yin-yang." Jack calls the UFO enthusiasts a "nutjob convention."

Drug and Alcohol Content

At one point Sara and Seth are shot in the neck with small drug-filled darts and knocked unconscious. They are then strapped to tables and fed a drug through breathing tubes.

Other Negative Elements

Sara and Seth empty an ATM of all its cash using their "powers." (They give $15,000 to Jack for a cab ride.) Gambling, of course, goes on in a hotel casino.

Conclusion

So let's get something out of the way—there are no witches at Witch Mountain. Just aliens, a flying saucer and a gazillion assault-rifle-armed government agents. Truthfully, the hagishly-named summit plays such a small part in the scheme of things that the movie could easily have been called: Race to Which Mountain?

This re-imagining of the '70s Disney classic Escape to Witch Mountain is quite simply a fun, big-budget, high-energy family-targeted popcorn muncher. It's a movie packed from title to credits with smash-up car chases, alien superpowers, explosive firefights and even a whirling, careening flying saucer getaway.

There's so much PG-rated bim-bam-boom, in fact, that I can easily imagine younger youngsters getting overwhelmed by the more perilous moments. They'll have to duck and cover (under Dad's leather jacket) when some of the sci-fi stuff scares them, too.

"As we sat down and starting conceiving this, it was kind of like, 'How dark can we go?'" director Andy Fickman told fear.net. "I'm a huge paranormal nut. I was born in Roswell, N.M., so I've lived the whole UFO legacy my entire life."

Maybe that's why the Siphon appears to have stepped out of a Predator movie.

Still, give Fickman credit for not showing death or blood, or scripting foul language or salacious sexual content. And Race to Witch Mountain goes out of its way to showcase a good guy who goes out of his way to protect innocents—ultimately saving aliens and humans alike—without once grabbing a weapon to blaze back at his attackers.

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