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Race To Witch Mountain
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=2974&w=l[/img]
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, Ciaran Hinds, Garry Marshall
Director: Andy Fickman
Studio: Disney
Runtime: 98 Minutes
Rating: PG
Blu-ray Release Date: August 4, 2009

Movie:3.5stars:

Jack Bruno (Johnson) drives for a living and it’s what he does best. In a past life Jack Bruno drove as a wheelman for a big Las Vegas crime syndicate and now he is just driving a cab around Las Vegas. Jack is struggling and trying to get through each day the honest way, but as with any well-known crime syndicate, you simply cannot just leave it once you’ve been a part of it. When two mysterious children, Sara and Seth (Robb and Ludwig), appear in the back seat of his cab with a wad of cash and a distant destination, he sees a simple opportunity of a massive fare. Are these two children the break that he’s been looking for?

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=2970&w=l[/img]
Little does Jack Bruno know that these two children are actually aliens who just crash landed on Earth, not but a few hours before. Jack is also completely unaware of the danger being associated with these two children has put him in. A mysterious assassin is hot on their tails looking to kill Seth and Sara and a secretive government agency discovered the children’s ship and is out to hunt for the children themselves. Both with their own agendas to fulfill see Jack as an expendable liability.

Seth and Sara must evade the assassin and the government agency in order to retrieve a mysterious gadget essential to their species survival and return to their home planet with it. The kids rely on Jack to be their bodyguard as well as their mode of transportation in order to complete their time-sensitive task. Along the way, they enlist the help of Dr. Alex Friedman (Gugino) and Dr. Donald Harlan (Marshall) who help them locate their ship so they can finally return back to their home planet.

Race To Witch Mountain is a fast paced film that is geared a bit more towards kids, but is entertaining and action-packed enough to keep an adult entertained. Don’t expect too much and you might just like this film.

Rating

Race To Witch Mountain is rated PG for action and violence, frightening and dangerous situations, and some thematic elements. As action packed as this film is, there’s hardly anything objectionable.

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=2971&w=l[/img]
Video:3.5stars:

Initially when the movie began I got excited at what I was seeing with the video transfer. Detail was abundant, but it was somewhat short-lived as I soon began to see some faults in the video that really fizzles any real hope of it being a great transfer. First off, I noticed ringing and edge enhancement on a couple of scenes throughout the film. It wasn’t blatantly obvious throughout the length of the film, but noticeable on several occasions. On top of that, dark sequences, especially nighttime sequences were a bit too dark. Delineating objects from their shadows was somewhat difficult to do. Black crush controlled the darker sequences making it hard to tell exactly what was going on and appreciate some of the potential better-detailed scenes.

Also, some of the CGI elements in the film were a bit too obvious. At times it did take me away from the overall experience. Some scenes that potentially could’ve been impressive just looked plain hokey. I saw some hazy edges, likely the effect of trying to blend the green screen, but it did look out of place in an otherwise sharp scene. While those things mentioned were easy to notice, it was also easy to notice the detail. As I mentioned briefly, detail was apparent and I was surprised on several separate occasion the clarity and detail in the scene. Fabric textures, clothing, specifically was something caught my eye.

Thankfully, the day scenes faired quite a bit better. Image contrast in these scenes was much better and my initial reaction of excitement from the beginning of the movie reoccurred a few times. Some of the scenes were pretty stunning, but overall the image transfer was very inconsistent.

Audio:4stars:

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=2972&w=l[/img]
Race to Witch Mountain sports an active surround sound mix. Throughout the film the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track portray an abundance of action sequences and chases that make use of the capability of the hi-resolution audio codec. Alien ships and helicopter fly-bys provided great speaker-to-speaker panning effects, as well as bullets being fired and ricochet through the sound field immersing the audience in the action even further. Crashes and explosions were also plentiful and add to the overall dynamics of the audio track. Though the low frequency effects were authoritative they didn’t quite have infrasonic impact I envisioned they might.

Dialog remains coherent even during the busiest of action sequences. I want to mention initially being intrigued at the beginning of the film with the musical score used for the movie. Throughout the movie I was continually reminded of it and I thought it especially fitting for the film. Overall, I am happy to report the audio track was much more consistent and a more pleasant experience than the video.

Extras:1stars:

The extras are as follows:

-Deleted Scenes
-Bloopers
-‘Which Mountain?’ featurette.


I am pretty disappointed in this movie’s lack of inclusion of supplemental features. The dual layered blu-ray disc ought to have plenty of storage capacity left over with only a 98 minute film taking up the space. The deleted scenes and bloopers are both in standard definition, too, leaving the eight-minute featurette to be the only thing in high definition.

There is also a DVD copy of this film on the 2nd disc and a digital copy on the 3rd disc. It seems as if Disney didn’t put much effort out for this film’s release.

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=2973&w=l[/img]
Overall:3.5stars:

The video transfer was really hit and miss and I found that pretty disappointing as it looked like it had a lot of potential. There was plenty of great looking scenes, but still too many problematic scenes that detract from the movie in general. Not to mention, the handful of CG-laden shots that looked cheaply done and were blatantly obvious. The audio fares much better, thankfully, but it still never reaches reference quality. Even still, I thought this film was a fun enough experience that my wife and I still enjoyed the film. I attribute that to the adult actors in this movie, specifically Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino. Still, while it was an pleasant film I find there’s not enough substance in the movie or extras to make me think that this movie is worth owning.
 

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Another great review Jon :T I'm a sucker for Disney movies and I really enjoyed this one, I remember going to see one of the original movies back in the 70's...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah, since my daughter was born, our watching habits have changed quite a bit and Disney or more kid-oriented movies are more the norm around here. She's only two and a half and we usually wait until she's in bed to watch them still, but I guess our preferences have shifted a bit too!
 

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Thanks for the review Jon!

My wife and I went and saw this in the theater ($2 theater), so I was wondering how the home theater version would be. We enjoyed the movie - definitely a fun date night, but probably not one that we will own.

Also, I must agree with your assessment about the enjoyability of the movie stemming from the adult actors. I am really becoming a fan of Dwayne Johnson's "straight man" flicks. Maybe it's leftover from my days of watching good wrastlin' (unlike what's on tv now), but his sense of timing and physical comedy is quite good in comparison to much of what you get these days.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks, Tex!

I still might pick this one up when it goes on sale for around the $10.00 mark. I liked the movie enough and you are absolutely correct about the Dwayne Johnson "straight man" flicks! Still one of my wife and my favorite movies is The Rundown.
 

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We picked this BluRay movie up when it was released and all of us (wife and 5 daughters) enjoyed it. The audio was nice and punchy and the video quality was Disney's usual top notch.
 
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