witchmtnbluStudio: Walt Disney Video
Year: 2009
Release Date: August 4, 2009
Run time: 84 minutes
Rating: R

Audio: DTS-HD MA lossless mix
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Disc Spec: 2 BD50/1 DVD
Region: A

Loosely based on Alexander Key’s novel Escape to Witch Mountain, Race to Witch Mountain is not so much a remake of the 1975 film Escape to Witch Mountain as an entirely new film based on some key plot points from the former film. When two innocent-looking teens appear in Jack Bruno’s (Dwayne Johnson) cab and tell him that “we must travel in that direction,” Jack thinks it’s a bit strange, but shrugs it off and starts driving. Soon they’re being followed and chased off the road, but is it Jack’s past catching up with him or something much larger? Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig) reluctantly confess that they are aliens from another planet, but Jack refuses to accept their statement until Sara starts moving things with her mind and Seth slips through the body of the car and deflects the SUV that’s pursuing them. Sara and Seth tell Jack that they must recover their crashed spaceship in order to save earth from being taken over by aliens, so Jack takes them to see Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino); a scientist who he met by chance and who believes in the possible existence of extra-terrestrials. While the four are initially wary of one another, Dr. Friedman provides some valuable contacts and they begin trusting one another out of sheer necessity. Soon they’re battling secret government agencies, heavily armed personnel, and even a cybernetic Siphon (that looks a lot like a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica) in a desperate attempt to gain access to the heavily fortified Witch Mountain and the crashed spacecraft. Action-packed car chases dominate the film (a bit excessively, in this reviewer’s opinion), but the acting and chemistry between actors is good as is the suspense and intrigue. Rated PG due to sequences of action and violence, frightening and dangerous situations, and some thematic elements.

“Race to Witch Mountain” is a bit of a disappointment. Duane Johnson brings his trademark charm to the role of Jack, but that isn’t enough to save this film. The problem lies mainly in the script, which calls for the characters to do stupid things. Also, the childrens’ powers expand and contract when necessary to add drama. Given what these kids can do, they should have minimal difficulty finding their ship and getting off the Earth. Younger kids will probably enjoy the film, but adults may find it frustrating.

AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig are both OK. But because they are playing aliens, they seem even more remote and awkward than normal. In the original “Witch Mountain” films, Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann played the original teens from outer space (both make a cameo in the new film) and the performances are very similar; a lot of staring into space, a lot of blank looks, all used to signify how out of place they are. But in both cases, this style of acting only serves to make the kids appear wooden.
Movie Quality: 8/10

Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. I was rather disappointed by the video quality as it wasn’t consistent throughout. Black levels are strong in several scenes, until one scene in particular that comes off looking very bad. The dreaded edge enhancement rears its head in this print. Color is vibrant and bold in this transfer. There are also moments though where the transfer does lack in a few areas. Lighting was a problem in a few scenes where there appeared to be too much light in the background.
Video Quality: 8/10

The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA Lossless 5.1 mix. The soundfield is immersive at all times no matter if it is the special effects or dialogue. I was quite impressed with the depth of the dialogue coming through the center channel. Dialogue was clean and clear with no apparent issues. This film has some decent usage of the rears. The chase scenes sounded very good.
Audio Quality: 9/10

Special Features

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Blooper Reel
  • White Mountain [HD]
  • Digital Copy

I am very surprised that two of the special features are in standard definition with the final one in HD. Not too sure what happened here with the lack os special features.
Special Features: 5/10

Final Thoughts

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. On Blu-ray, the film has good video with a few issues and surprising audio. The special features are lackluster in this set which is a shame.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10