Thursday, March 19, 2009

Witch Mountain all over again

Disney's "Witch Mountain" movies of the 70s' were a major influence on my formative years. They were among the first movies I watched focused on paranormal themes. They fed me with fantasies of ESP abilities, aliens and spacecraft; but it was because of these fantasies that I began reading the newspapers, looking out for articles on such topics.

Somehow, Witch Mountain made a believer out of me and I suppose I was looking for corroborating evidence that such things were real. If they could be real for other people -- so my logic went -- they could turn out to be real for me too. After expending much effort on fruitless mental levitation, my teenage mind decided that if ESP wasn't my gift, then I had to be an alien. Perhaps that above all effectively ended my teenage social life, and turned me into the warped and twisted middle-ageing adult I am today.

Not surprisingly, I made a bee-line for the latest Witch Mountain tale to spin out of the Disney Studio... and realised how much I've grown up in 30-plus years. I mean the basic plot is the same: two young aliens wielding extraordinary powers get chased around for pretty much the whole movie by an evil, obsessive character, and are aided by some uncle-ly dude who promises to get them home, wherever home may be. But I've lost the magic of the first movie and I spent most of the time spotting plot loopholes big enough for a taxi, an RV and a flying saucer to transit through -- abreast.

"Race to Witch Mountain" is a pastiche of many sci-fi plots -- "Enemy of the State", "Terminator", and "Alien", for example -- woven together so loosely it's easy to slip into seen-it-all-before mode. There's a little humour, some action sequences, some big explosions, and the pursuers are by no means benign, but the thrills tend to be short-lived, never sustained.

Oh, well, jaded forty-something talking. I think the biggest thrill for me was to see Ike and Kim (who played the original alien kids) making cameo appearances as a sheriff and a diner waitress respectively. To me, they're old friends whom I haven't seen in decades, and it was a brief vicarious reunion that we shared in a greasy spoon in Stony Creek, small-town USA. It's assuring to see that even as I have grown up, they have too. Tony and Tia, it's good to see you again!

No comments: