June 3, 2009 -- This is a remake of a 1975 film called “Escape to Witch Mountain.” Despite the huge improvements in special effects over the years, the film is not really improved in the new version, except for said special effects. Thin characterizations and a lack of character development are the main problems here, together with a thin, unbelievable plot.
The story starts with a Las Vegas taxi driver, Jack Bruno (played by Dwayne Johnson, AKA “The Rock”) who is in trouble with a local mob boss. He soon finds himself in even more trouble when two alien kids get into his cab. The two kids are being chased by operatives of a secret government organization. The two kids are also being chased by a kind of alien terminator determined to kill them. This unstoppable terminator pursues them throughout the movie. The two kids, who have almost no personality or charm, are on a mission to save the earth. It turns out the military leaders on another planet are determined to conquer earth. The kids and their parents are part of an anti-war faction. This sounds a lot like the lead up to the latest Iraq war. The movie also manages to get in a reference to “illegal aliens,” and it also has another reference to severe environmental damage leading to war. This sounds like the film is overly political, but it isn't. None of these issues goes beyond mere mention.
The two kids, Sara and Seth (AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig) have various mind powers. Seth can change his molecular structure from ghost-like to super massive. Sara can read minds. The main bad guy is Henry Burke (Ciarán Hinds of “Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day”) who is the head of the secret anti-alien government agency. He is so evil he wants to dissect the kids! Serving as protectors for the kids are Jack Bruno and space alien expert Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino of “The Lookout”), who just happens to be in a UFO convention in Las Vegas when all this is happening. The kids also get some help from UFO expert Dr. Donald Harlan (played by actor and director Garry Marshall). Naturally Dr. Harlan has complete blueprints to the secret base where the kids' spaceship has been hidden by that nefarious government agency. This being a Disney film, it should come as a surprise to no one that a dog also joins the fugitive children for no particular reason.
You don't really expect a movie like this to be realistic, but it makes no attempt to be believable or relevant in any way. It needed to at least meet the audience halfway. It doesn't even make it 25 percent of the way. This movie is strictly for kids. There are no sustained characters of any kind, despite some capable acting talent. There is no attempt to develop any kind of believable relationship between the characters. There is no attempt to develop any sustained ideas about the real-world political and environmental issues the film touches upon. This is a remake that need not have been made. It fails to improve upon or even equal the original film. This film rates a C.
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