I took my 17 and 12-year-old daughters to see this PG-rated film. They liked it, especially the action sequences – many of which were fairly innovative, not something I expected in what I thought would be formula Disney entertainment.
Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) continues his able development as an actor. He plays Jack Bruno, a down-on-his-luck Las Vegas taxicab driver who, hoping to someday be a NASCAR driver instead became a wheelman for the mob and is trying very hard to stay out of trouble.
The film opens with an alien spacecraft crash-landing in the Nevada desert. Soon, the two very human-looking teenage aliens link up with Bruno and the pursuit begins in earnest.
The film would have been better without the gratuitous attack directed at America’s armed forces. The U.S. Department of Defense was shown throughout as being composed of a bunch of overbearing heavies. A more direct slam occurs when one of the alien kids says that their planet is dying and that there is a debate on their home world between those who favor a military conquest of Earth and those who want to study the Earth’s environment to learn of a way to repair the damage to their own world. It was as if Al Gore and Dick Cheney were battling off-world by proxy.
This conflict between “militarism” and science takes on an even greater significance when one realizes that it was completely absent from 1975 version of Alexander Key SciFi novel “Escape to Witch Mountain.” The original film hewed more closely to Key’s book, introducing a new character in millionaire Aristotle Bolt, a man who wants to use the alien children’s special powers to make money on the market.
It’s remarkable, given the 9-11 attack on America and the ongoing two-front war, that Disney would change the antagonist from a greedy millionaire to the Pentagon. Perhaps if the film was produced a year later, Disney would have struck more closely to the original script with the Aristotle Bolt character making an easy morphing into a master Ponzi schemer.