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Wed March 11, 2009
Race to Witch Mountain
Hardly inspiring science fiction
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
Dwayne Johnson, the actor formerly known as "The Rock," has a megawatt smile, a torso of tendons, and a bit too white a smile--overall he's a charmer. Despite his charisma, he can't make Race to Witch Mountain any more than a third-rate sci-fi, kid flick with dialogue as barren as the Nevada landscape and signature city in which it is set. The only exception to the banality: When hero Jack Bruno (Johnson) starts to go through a portal disguised as a refrigerator, he says, "Don't go in the pimped out fridge Jack."
Two kids (AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig) are aliens who need to get back to their home, but the authorities have a different idea, a takeoff on the Bush administration's "hold-them-forever" plan (the only remotely cerebral part of the film). Most of the film is races, either with Bruno's cab to Witch Mountain (like Devil's Canyon, a mystical alien landing place) and multiple visuals aping Close Encounters of a Third Kind) or by foot-- hardly inspiring science fiction.
A satisfactory part of the film is the UFO convention in Las Vegas. Having witnessed a Star Trek convention, I can vouch for the plethora of nerds at these affairs?the film is faithful to the outrageousness of the believers. Their absurd behavior actually saves the film from being even more boring than a private session with a new secretary of the Treasury.
Dwayne Johnson's career does not advance beyond his much better Game Plan; in fact it takes a step back with Witch Mountain. Yet, he is a brand destined to transcend this drivel, which I awarded a "C" based on my preview audience's applause and my abiding affection for science fiction.
I'll keep on searching the screens for signs of intelligent movie life.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time and Cinema Classics shows, which can be heard streaming at http://publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/ppr/index.shtml and on demand anytime at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/arts.artsmain
Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com