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Race to Witch Mountain Blu-ray Review

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  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), French Dolby Digital 5.1 (640kbps), Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 (640kbps), Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (640kbps), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (640kbps), Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 (640kbps)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Bahasa, Chinese, French, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai
  • Region: A
  • Discs: 3
  • Studio: Walt Disney Video
  • Release Date: August 4, 2009
  • List Price: $44.99
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Overall
rating4
The Film
rating3
Video Quality
rating4-5
Audio Quality
rating5
Supplemental Materials
rating3-5

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

More Screen Captures (12 Total)

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG and thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

rating3

Director Andy Fickman’s update of Disney’s 1975 film Escape to Witch Mountain is light on the story, but heavy on the action. It may be a bit thin for grownups, but it offers just enough fun, humour, and special effects to provide the least demanding eight-year-olds and up out there some weekend afternoon distraction.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays Las Vegas cab driver Jack Bruno. He picks up two oddball  kids who turn out to be aliens and takes them to a shack in the middle of nowhere for $15,000 because he needs the cash. Apparently the two kids, Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig) need to find their spaceship and hurry back to their planet with the results of an experiment in order to save Earth from invading hordes of hostile military forces from their home world.

Meanwhile, the kids are running from both a Department of Defense agent who wants to perform experiments on them and a genetically engineered assassin from their world. Jack needs to enlist the help of the not-unattractive fringe scientist Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino) to help keep the children out of the hands of the government and get them back to their spaceship, which is being held in the government’s secret facility at Witch Mountain.

BDDefinitionracetowitchmountain-b1080

Dwayne Johnson shows a surprising comedic talent, even if Fickman wastes most of it using him as the curmudgeonly ex-con one time too many. Sadly, AnnaSophia Robb’s young talents as an actress, so wonderfully displayed in Bridge to Terabithia, are almost ignored here. The characters of the aliens are not developed much at all, and there’s no chemistry between Robb and her co-star Alexander Ludwig to make them seem like believable siblings.

Still, Race to Witch Mountain will more than satisfy the popcorn crowd, so get out the Orville Redenbacher the next rainy Saturday and gather the everyone ’round the flatscreen, because it will at least be a relatively painless, family-ready 99 minutes.

Video Quality

rating4-5

BDDefinitionracetowitchmountain-g1080

Disney has done it again bringing Race to Witch Mountain to Blu in an excellent transfer that shows a solid AVC/MPEG-4 encoding. The 2.40:1 framing looks incredibly film-like, with a fine level of grain structure, natural flesh tones and an absence of compression artifacts. If there is an issue that plagues Witch Mountain, it is a tendency for blacks to crush in a film that has many scenes taking place in the dark. This one nuisance is enough to keep Witch Mountain from garnering a perfect rating from this reviewer.

Audio Quality

rating5

BDDefinitionracetowitchmountain-l1080

Race to Witch Mountain’s English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) is completely engrossing and dynamic. There is hardly a moment where there isn’t some activity in the surround channels. Sounds pan to the rear, to the sides, even across the front channels to follow the action. Check out Chapter 4 as Jack and the kids are running from the alien assassin for a splendid display of the discrete panning of sound effects around the room and the resounding low frequency extension. The latter half of the film inside Witch Mountain also offers some engulfing sound as the warning alarm sounds from somewhere off in the distance.

Dialogue is clear and clean with film’s score having smooth high frequencies and good air around the instruments. This is most definitely a reference quality mix that can be brought out to show off the home theatre sound system.

Supplemental Materials

rating3-5

BDDefinitionracetowitchmountain-i1080

The actual Blu-ray supplements on Race to Witch Mountain feel like throwaways, especially in comparison to the special features on some of Disney’s top-tier releases, but with the bonus DVD and digital copy included as well, it is difficult to argue against the added value offered with this release.

The supplements available on this release are:

  • Deleted Scenes with introductions by director, Andy Fickman (1.33:1; 480i/60):
    • Intro
    • Extended Opening Ray’s
    • Extended Ray’s Telekinesis
    • Jack Beats Up Zacha
    • Tina Meets Siphon
    • Sara Foils Security Fence
    • Alex Foils Guard
    • Extended Goodbye Scene
    • Original Tag
  • Bloopers (1.33:1; 480i/60)
  • Backstage Disney (1.78:1; 1080p/24) — Director Andy Fickman reveals all his hidden references to the original movies Escape to Witch Mountain and Return from Witch Mountain
  • Sneak Peeks (HD):
    • Ponyo
    • Earth
    • Up
    • Santa Buddies
    • Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure
    • Disney Parks
    • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Diamond Edition
    • The Princess and the Frog
    • Hannah Montana: The Movie
    • On Blu-ray Disc
    • Disney Movie Rewards
  • Bonus DVD
  • Digital Copy
  • D-Box Motion Code

The Definitive Word

Overall:

rating4

BDDefinitionracetowitchmountain-h1080

Race to Witch Mountain will probably never qualify as classic filmmaking. In fact, most likely won’t even reach the status of being a classic piece of sci-fi cinema, but it’s still an energetic film that the whole family can sit down and watch to pass the time of day with.  Add in the bonus DVD and digital copy plus the reference-quality picture and sound on the Blu-ray and it’s a difficult piece of distraction to pass up.

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