Race To Witch Mountain
Published Apr 6 2009, 11:56 BST | By Alex Fletcher Director:
Matt Lopez, Mark Bomback Starring: Dwayne Johnson
, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, Carla Gugino, Ciaran Hinds, Ike Eisenmann, Kim RichardsRunning time:
WWE and the stars of sports entertainment haven't given us many classic films over the years. Mickey Rourke's The Wrestler
proved that the sight of flabby men in speedos isn't necessarily a hindrance to big screen success, but that was the exception rather than the rule. Hulk Hogan's dreadful turns in Suburban Commando
and Mr Nanny
spring immediately to mind, while the less said about the big screen outings of Paul 'Triple H' Levesque and 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin the better. In fact, the only wrestler to successfully break out of the ring into Hollywood to date is Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson.
Johnson's credits - The Scorpion King
, The Game Plan
, Get Smart
- may not be bothering the Academy judges any time soon, but they weren't the turkeys most expected. The former wrestler exudes a charm on and off screen that makes him tricky to dislike, and he is able to play the rough-tough everyman with a heart of gold underneath far better than Arnie or Sly. In Race To Witch Mountain
- a revival of the popular '70s Disney franchise - Johnson has got another hit on his hands with what may be his best performance yet.
Felon-turned-taxi driver Jack Bruno (Johnson) is attempting to get back on the straight and narrow in Las Vegas, but his life is turned upside down when two teens appear in the back of his cab with a huge wad of cash, asking for a ride into what appears to be the middle of nowhere. Bruno soon notices that Seth (Ludwig) and Sara (Robb) are no ordinary kids, but against his better judgement he follows the pair and finds himself embroiled in a race against time to help them get back home. The only problem being that their home doesn't happen to be on Earth.
Ruthless homeland security agent Burke (Ciaran Hinds) and Bruno's criminal past provide problems for the trio, but they are ably assisted along the way by token attractive female Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino) and a cute dog. In a nice touch, the stars of the first movie Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards also make cameos as a sheriff and waitress who assist Bruno and the teens escape from a barricaded diner.
We'd wager a large amount of cash that this Disney flick will be turned into a rollercoaster ride at a certain theme park soon, and its tick-box approach to plotting and characterisation occasionally lets it down. But thanks to a hilarious scene at a sci-fi convention (featuring The Simpsons
' comic store guy's catchphrase "Best....convention...ever") and some impressive old-school car chase thrills, the faults are easily forgettable. Witch Mountain
is a full-throttle adventure that features at least half a dozen cracking action sequences, some adult-pleasing comic one-liners. It all gallivants along at a relentless pace and is neatly set up to kick-off a long-running, big-bucks franchise. Ludwig and Robb are likable child actors, while Johnson is perfectly cast as the musclebound bad-guy done good. Of course, the string of coincidences and fortunate events are ludicrous, but director Andy Fickman almost revels in the ridiculousness, squeezing every action-movie cliché, trick and twist imaginable into this more than enjoyable hour-and-a-half romp.