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Revisiting Witch Mountain

Posted on the 14 June 2024 by Steveawiggins @stawiggins

Suspension of disbelief is essential for many movies.  When a friend pointed out that Disney had rebooted Witch Mountain, of course I suspended.  Recast as a new millennium-style action sci-fi movie, it really didn’t rock the critics, but there’s a lot going on in it.  Shall we start at the beginning?  The opening credits sympathetically establish the reality of UFOs as alien visitors to Earth.  In other words, we know from the beginning that the kids are aliens, not witches.  And the chasing begins immediately and doesn’t let up.  Not only is the government after the kids, so is a “bounty-hunter”/“terminator” from their home planet.  A body-building cab driver and an ostracized academic (with you there!) work to get the kids back to their ship, which is being held by said government in Witch Mountain.

Revisiting Witch Mountain

In a nod to the original an RV is thrown in, and the setting at a Los Vegas UFO convention ads a kind of surreal twist. That’s what was kind of disturbing, in my experience—the blending of “nut job” UFO enthusiasts and the reality aspect prompted by the prologue.  UFOs, like most things in American culture, have become extremely divisive.  With nods to everything from The X-Files to Close Encounters, and many enthusiastic high-fives to Star Wars, there are mixed messages and there’s too much going on.  It’s difficult to process.  The cameo by Whitley Strieber was a nice touch.  Long gone are the locals with shotguns trying to find witches.  Witch Mountain itself is a government facility more secure than Area 51.

The reimagining of the story is signaled by the change of title to Race to Witch Mountain.  So the story seems to have gone off the rails at some points.  I always find movies where people faced with the obvious “supernatural” simply refuse to believe, fascinating.  It is, after all, about belief.  The plot, with its “our planet is dying—yours is too” message, is a bit tricky to decipher.  There are those convinced that we need to abandon Earth to other worlds where we can continue our acquisitiveness unhampered, and those who believe we should repair the damage here.  As I say, everything is divisive.  Overall, the movie seems to say that the system kinda works, so let’s keep with it.  And wreck lots of stuff along the way.  I couldn’t help but notice the borrowed trope from Pirates of the Caribbean, “You’re a good man, Jack.”  It seems Jack is a favored protagonist name.  And strange things like that happen on planet Earth, at least seen through the Disney lens.

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