Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: Walt Disney Pictures/Gunn Films
Blu-ray: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Runtime: 99 min.
Size: 50 GB
Case: Standard Blu-ray case w/flippage & slipcover
Release date: August 4, 2009
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Video codec: AVC
English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48kHz/24-bit). Dub: French,
Spanish & Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, et al.
English SDH, French & Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Malay,
Bahasa and more.
• "Which Mountain?" – Discover hidden references to the
original movie. – in HD (8:20)
• Deleted Scenes with Introductions by the Director – in SD
• Bloopers – (3:37)
• Disc 2: Digital Copy
• Disc 3: DVD of the feature film
It's been a few years since Disney closed the door on Witch
Mountain. The first movie, Escape to Witch Mountain, was way
back in 1975; the sequel, Return from Witch Mountain,
followed three years later. Each employed the talents of a
number of major actors (Eddie Albert, Ray Milland and Donald
Pleasence in the original; Bette Davis and Christopher Lee
in the second.) Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann played the
same children in both movies, and are seen in cameos in the
new film. There was also a made-for-TV remake of the
original story in 1995, not as well received. These were all
family-friendly live action movies that centered on a
brother/sister duo with mysterious powers and the attempts
of those who would exploit them.
Some of that naiveté is captured in the new movie, but the
effects and noise level tends to take center stage in these
proceedings. In the latest update, the children, while
persistently humanoid, evidently arrive on Earth in a
spacecraft (at Shipwreck, Nevada – a nice touch). They are
still some distance from their destination where they must
retrieve a gadget of galactic importance and locate their
spaceship before a Terminator-type machine from their planet
gets to it first.
Who ya gonna call but a cab in Vegas to get you there - and
who should be driving it but Jack Bruno, an erstwhile thug,
now trying his best to go straight after a stay as a guest
of the state! The mob has other plans and makes life a
little difficult for him. Nothing he can't handle, wouldn't
you know, because Jack is played by none other than the
GREAT Dwayne Johnson. I mean that kindly as well as
figuratively. "The Rock" is actually rather charming in the
role of rescuer, and the perfect foil for Sara's and Seth's
inflexible way of presenting themselves.
If the Terminator (unhappily underdeveloped) and the Vegas
mob (unhappily present in the first place) were not enough,
the main irritant presents in the form of Henry Burke (Ciarán
Hinds), a federal agent reminiscent in mission, if not
style, of Richard Jaeckel's character in Starman. Undaunted,
Jack enlists the aid of Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino –
what's not to like!), a UFO scientist in town for a nerds'
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence
compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.
The second number places this image along the full range of
DVD and Blu-ray discs.
I guess for the target audience there is little to complain
about here and, indeed, except for some occasional EE and
shadowless blacks, the main difficulty is a kind of grainy
flatness that dulls the imagination. Sharpness is good, but
humanoid flesh is lifeless.
Audio & Music:
The audio fares better than the image: we are not
disappointed in an uncompressed DTS-HD MA mix that features
car chases, explosions, a little gunfire and a train wreck.
Directional cues in the surrounds are less than specific
but, through it all, the dialogue remains clear.
I do like menus that tell me what I'm about to get into,
especially with the bonus features. These do. Yeah, team.
The extra features consist of a few extended deleted scenes,
smartly introduced by Director Fickman, a few pointlessly
included bloopers, and a featurette where Fickman unmasks
some of his cameos - most significantly Kim Richards and Ike
Eisenmann from the original movies (my, how they've aged!) -
and other petit tributes to Disney.
Harmless Family entertainment that's hard to imagine
youngsters wouldn't enjoy. The image is so-so, the audio
better, however, the whole enterprise is a little overpriced
unless you can take advantage of the two bonus discs.
August 3rd, 2009