Blu-Ray Review: ‘Race to Witch Mountain’ With Dwayne Johnson a Waste of Energy

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CHICAGO – “Race to Witch Mountain,” now on Blu-Ray and DVD, is a head-scratcher, a movie with more than enough individual elements that should work but proof that a film is not just the sum of its parts. Dwayne Johnson is charismatic, AnnaSophia Robb is one of the better young actresses working today, Carla Gugino is always good, and the source material is beloved, but “Race to Witch Mountain” is a mess that never connects with its target audience or their parents. Blu-Ray Rating: 2.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 2.0/5.0

The plot of “Race to Witch Mountain” is simple. A pair of aliens who look like teenagers (AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig) crash land near Las Vegas. While they’re being chased by an alien bounty hunter and a group of human men in black (including Ciaran Hinds, Chris Marquette, and Tom Everett Scott), they stumble into the life of a cab driver (Johnson) and a scientist (Gugino), the only two people who can help them save planet Earth from destruction.

Race to Witch Mountain was released on Blu-Ray on August 4th, 2009.
Race to Witch Mountain was released on Blu-Ray on August 4th, 2009.
Photo credit: Buena Vista Home Video

The big problem with “Witch Mountain” is a breakneck pace that doesn’t allow the audience to latch on to anything worth caring about. Johnson is reduced to nothing more than a series of shocked expressions and scenes of running. Robb, so great in “Bridge to Terabithia,” is allowed to show none of her range, merely explaining the plot whenever she has time to catch her breath. And even the lovely Gugino is purely a plot device.

Race to Witch Mountain was released on Blu-Ray on August 4th, 2009.
Race to Witch Mountain was released on Blu-Ray on August 4th, 2009.
Photo credit: Buena Vista Home Video

Director Andy Fickman (who also worked with the actor formerly known as The Rock on “The Game Plan”) takes the first word of his title way too seriously, forgetting that a movie needs ups AND downs to really work. Watching characters we don’t care about run from point A to point B gets numbingly dull, even for kids.

Disney is wisely releasing all family films in gorgeous 3-disc packs that include a Blu-Ray copy, standard DVD copy, and digital copy of the movie. Kids like to watch movies anywhere from the family room to their bedroom to the car to their iPod and this new “all options” delivery system is really the way to go.

Both the standard DVD and Blu-Ray release of “Race to Witch Mountain” include deleted scenes, bloopers, and promotional bits for Blu-Ray (with Dylan & Cole Sprause) and digital copy. The Blu-Ray combo pack includes “Which Mountain?,” a bit in which Fickman reveals the film’s hidden reference to the original movies, “Escape to Witch Mountain” and “Return From Witch Mountain”. The Blu-Ray version is also D-Box enabled.

All versions feature a surprising lack of behind-the-scenes material and no commentary track, adding to the feeling that “Witch Mountain” is a bit of a disappointment all-around, as a film and a home release.

‘Race to Witch Mountain’ is released by Buena Vista Home Video and stars Dwayne Johnson, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, Carla Gugino, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Everett Scott, and Chris Marquette. It was written by Matt Lopez and Mark Bomback and directed by Andy Fickman. The Blu-Ray and DVD were released on August 4th, 2009. It is rated PG. content director Brian Tallerico

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