Just the kind of family-friendly action yarn that Disney does perfectly well, its remake of Race To Witch Mountain never threatens to be much more than a decent mish-mash of action, effects and small children, but it certainly ticks its boxes competently enough. I can’t compare it the original, however, as I never got round to seeing it. But this version is solid stuff.
At heart, this remake is a vehicle for The Rock, who here is a cab driver who picks up two mysterious children – Seth and Sara – with a bundle full of cash. He does, to be fair, have a moment where he questions if all is right with this, before agreeing to drive them to their desired destination anyway, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. All is going swimmingly, until it becomes clear that some gruff men in posh suits are keen to get their hands on the two anklebiters. Tracking them down to the back of The Rock’s cab, the aforementioned gruff men and their secret government agents try and ram what soon appears to be an armoured taxi off the road. But then Seth and Sara start demonstrating strange powers, and are revealed to be aliens.
But heck, they’ve still got the cash, so The Rock keeps driving.
After a little bit of plot hokum – and a welcome cameo from Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall – it soon becomes clear that what’s going on here is an attempt to save the world from another alien, and as the film goes through its fairly expensive motions, it’s hard not to get carried along with the fun. Granted, Race To Witch Mountain is utterly forgettable, and there’s not a sequence in it that you’ll be dissecting even two days later. But it’s effective entertainment that stays within its Disney content confines. It also, wisely, keeps its running time tight, and gives The Rock another role that he can happily walk through without a great deal of effort.
The Blu-ray presentation is really quite good. Given that it’s a brand new, fairly high budget film, we still thought it was a notch below the reference standards set by the likes of The Dark Knight, but it’s a good transfer, that handles the bright action of the film suitably well.
The audio side of matters is better, with plenty of action, lots of bluster and a breadth to the soundstage that serves the material well. It’s not an impress-your-friends disc, but it’s still a fine piece of work.
The extra features here, though, aren’t very good at all. The best is the Which Mountain featurette, where the film’s director – Andy Fickman – takes you through some of the references and in-jokes laden within his film. The problem is that this runs for less than ten minutes, and a longer version of it would have been appreciated. On top of that, you get a chunk of decent deleted scenes, which Fickman talks you through. And there’s a decent gag reel too, but that comes up at less than five minutes.
It’s a disappointingly slight collection of extra features, sadly, for a film that’s really quite good fun. You also, incidentally, get a bonus digital copy of the film, as well as a DVD version, in the three-disc Blu-ray pack that Disney is selling. Just thought you’d like to know…
The Film:The Disc:
Race To Witch Mountain is out on Blu-ray now.