Saturday, March 14, 2009


Yeah, yeah, I know I promised a WATCHMEN review, and I intend to fulfill that promise... as soon as I'm done reading the book so I can compare and contrast and all that good stuff. In the meantime, let's talk about this weekend's new release, RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN, starring Dwayne "Don't Call Me The Rock" Johnson. I saw it at a free advance screening a few days ago and had no real expectations, but it turned out to be a serviceable, even enjoyable, kiddie alien flick.

The Rock plays Jack Bruno, a wise-cracking Las Vegas cabbie with a checkered past who picks up a fare from a couple of kids carrying a giant wad of cash and asking to be driven into the middle of the desert. Naturally, the kids turn out to be friendly aliens with all sorts of coooooool supernatural powers, on the run from both the U.S. government AND a Predator-esque alien hitman, as they desperately try to get back to their home planet and prevent an imminent invasion of Earth. Slightly ridiculous, sure... but the movie moves at a breakneck pace, laden with absurdly huge explosions and car chases, barely giving you a chance to catch your breath before the next big action sequence. What it lacks in, y'know, character development and plot and dialogue, it makes up for in sheer kiddie exhilaration.

If you ask me, The Rock is one of the more underrated actors around these days, and by all powers of the universe, should be a premiere action star. He's better and more charismatic than Schwartzeneggar ever was, yet has never scored a role even remotely as good as Arnold's most mediocre, which is a shame. But thanks to his WWE conditioning, he can ham it up with the best of'em, and he is entertaining here. The kids, played by AnnaSophia Robb (from the excellent BRIDGE TO TEREBITHIA) and Alexander Ludwig, are quite good, as well. Rounding out the solid cast are the luscious Carla Gugino as a UFO expert who gets caught up in the action, and the great CIARAN HINDS, slumming big-time but making it look good, as a heartless government agent.

Not a perfect movie by any means, but certainly a pleasant surprise considering how low my expectations were. I've never seen the original, so I don't know how it compares -- but you could do a lot worse than this if you need to keep your kids busy with some popcorn fun... if ya SMEEELLLLLL... what THE ROCK... is cookin'!

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