RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN
Rated: PG for sequences of action and violence, frightening and dangerous situations, and some thematic elements.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, Carla Gugino, Ciarán Hinds, Tom Everett Scott and Chris Marquette
Directed by: Andy Fickman
What it’s about: Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson) is a Las Vegas cabby who picks up two mysterious teenagers with extraordinary powers. He soon learns they’re from another planet and need his help finding their spaceship that has been captured by the government before they can get home.
What I liked: I was a little kid when the original Witch Mountain movies came out in the 1970s, so I have fond memories of them. This movie has been changed extensively from either of its preceding films, but I’m okay with that. Instead of giving a slow burn from the kids’ point of view, Race to Witch Mountain is a whiz-bang action flick for the family audience. It’s what might result if Michael Bay tries to make a kids’ movie.
Overall, the Rock… er, Dwayne Johnson… is very personable and handles the family-friendly roles well. He’s definitely got screen presence, and it doesn’t hurt to have Carla Gugino filling out the cast and actually giving a solid acting performance this week.
What I didn’t: There were moments where the story did derail a bit, leading the characters on a bit of a wild goose chase. There’s also the fact that the explanation for why an alien invasion force is on the way does borderline on being preachy.
Who is gonna like this movie: Families with kids… especially boys.
LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT
Studio: Rogue Pictures
Rated: R for sadistic brutal violence including a rape and disturbing images, language, nudity and some drug use.
Starring: Garret Dillahunt, Michael Bowen, Josua Cox, Riki Lindhome, Aaron Paul, Sara Paxton, Monica Potter, Tony Goldwyn, Martha MacIsaac and Spencer Treat Clark
Directed by: Dennis Iliadis
What it’s about: This remake of the “video nasty” from the 1970s tells the story of two teenage girls who are kidnapped, brutalized and raped by escaped convicts. However, when the convicts get stuck in a rain storm, they find shelter at one of the girl’s parents’ house, and the parents exact a grisly revenge. Think of The Hills Have Eyes without the mutants.
What I liked: I’ve never been a big fan of the original Last House on the Left. Aside from some undeniable campyness that makes it a hoot to watch in a crowded theater, I always saw this film as a pointless exercise in bad taste.
However, if you can endure the brutalizing and rape, it is kinda fun to watch the parents open up a can of unholy whoop-ass on the perpetrators.
What I didn’t: I’ve never been one to turn my nose up to violent cinema, but I’ve always felt there was a pointlessness to the original film, and the feeling carries over into this remake. Call me crazy, but I really don’t like to watch rape on screen. At least last week Watchmen skirted around the real nasty moments of this.
Plus, several moments in the film are sanitized, most notably when the mother goes after one of the killers. In the original movie, she bit the guy’s dick off, and while the modern version isn’t the stuff of Romper Room, it’s still not as powerful as to what happened in the original.
Hell, if you can show a brutal rape, why can’t we see someone get their junk bitten off? What is this world coming to?
Who is gonna like this movie: Fans of the original, those who like violent cinema and anyone with a rape fantasy.
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Rated: R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, pervasive language and some drug use.
Starring: Zach Cregger, Trevor Moore, Raquel Alessi, Molly Stanton, Craig Robinson and Hugh M. Hefner
Directed by: Zach Cregger & Trevor Moore
What it’s about: A high schooler who plans to break his abstinence plan with his girlfriend on prom night falls down the stairs and ends up in a coma for four years. His best friend wakes him up after four years, and they discover his girlfriend is now a Playboy Playmate. So, they embark on a cross-country road trip to meet up with her again at the Playboy mansion.
What I liked: I will admit that I did find some things funny in this film. Cregger and Moore come from IFC’s’ “The Whitest Kids U Know” show, and they do have a knack for comedy. If you check your brain at the door, you will find some things to laugh at.
What I didn’t: This is the first movie that Cregger and Moore have been in charge of, and it shows. There’s a definite fist-time indie filmmaker feel to it. Moore seems to channel Jim Carrey’s character from Ace Ventura, but it never quite works out as well as it should. Instead of being an homage, it’s more of a rip-off.
And while I appreciated the many breasts that were to be seen in this movie, to me it just made no sense to have the pivotal role of a Playmate be portrayed by a girl who, while hot as hell, refuses to be nude in the film. Shenanigans!
Who is gonna like this movie: White Kids fans and anyone desperate for a raunchy road comedy.