Rewind Review: Escape from Witch Mountain
It’s very hard as a moviegoer to resist the temptation to watch something on opening weekend. However, there will come weekends when there’s no new release that you care to see. So what do you do?
Well, this is where my Monday review comes in. I’ll review something I’ve seen over the weekend that I think you should see next weekend if the batch of new releases doesn’t entice you.
This weekend I watched Race to Witch Mountain, I personally judge every remake, reimagining and rehash on its own individual merits. However, my rule of thumb typically is if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Conversely if it was never really that good to begin with, why not?
The original pair of Witch Mountain films fall into the latter category. They were slow-moving, not very interesting, and couldn’t even be saved by Bette Davis, one of if not the greatest actress who ever lived.
There are many, many things that work well in Race, and those that don’t are minor and don’t detract from the overall experience.
Pace – The move really gets humming, and I was clutching the edge of my seat at times. At the beginning the kids are involved in a chase and you think it’s going to be a two-hour trek to Witch Mountain.
Editing – Amidst all the action the cuts are fast and well-timed; however, I was never left befuddled by what I was looking at in the frame, like in Quantum of Solace.
Dwayne Johnson – Yes, that’s right I said it The Rock. Not only has he steadily improved, and look every bit the part of ‘action hero’, he is also great with a one-liner – which is crucial for any action star. The Rock actually even emoted, some, in the dramatic farewell. Does this day something bad about actors or film? Not necessarily, considering he was always a performer he just needed to learn to transition. Of course, that doesn’t mean every wrestler, singer, rapper and reality star should do it. There needs to be some ability, talent, constant improvement and the intangible like-ability. I’d take Dwayne Johnson over Vin Diesel in a part any day.
The Young Stars – If you haven’t noticed Dakota Fanning isn’t Dakota Fanning anymore. That slot now goes to AnnaSophia Robb. You’ve probably seen her, and just haven’t put a name to her face. She was in Bridge to Terabithia, Because of Winn-Dixie, and other films, and she is excellent. It’s not easy playing a well-spoken, smart, deadpan alien and she did wonderfully, as did Alexander Ludwig, who already proved he could carry a would-be franchise in The Seeker, a film whose box-office failed its concept.
Last but certainly not least is Carla Gugino – It was good seeing her on screen again. I’ve always felt she was slightly underestimated in the ‘Spy Kids’ films.
The FBI agent – Played by Ciarán Hinds, the agent seemed like a poor-man’s attempt at Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive.
Garry Marshall – As the nutty alien scientist who helps them find the mountain Marshall seemed out of place. It was a comedic role, and it feels odd that it was.
The Syphon – The assassin sent after the kids from their home planet to thwart their mission is ultimately more of a con than a plus. It does look creepy with its helmet off, but you end up forgetting about it until it shows up to throw a monkey-wrench into the equation.
Overall: cool locations, pretty good effects and a steady level of tension through make Race to Witch Mountain worth seeing, it’s not your parents Witch Mountain or your childhood’s for that matter- and in this case that’s a good thing.