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Blu-ray Reviewer
15,753 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Disney - 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 99 Minutes
Genre: Family/Adventure

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Annasophia Robb, Carla Guggino, Ciaran Hinds, Alexander Ludwig, Tom Everette Scott
Directed by: Andy Fickman
Music by: Trevor Rabin
Written by: Matt Lopez & Mark Bomback based on the book by Alexander Key
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 4, 2009

"The race is on"

Film Synopsis:

Las Vegas taxi driver Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson) sets off on the adventure of a lifetime when two mysterious teens ask him to drive them deep into the Nevada desert. Jack agrees to take siblings Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig) to Witch Mountain, a shadowy government outpost devoted to studying inexplicable phenomena - including UFO sightings. But his young passengers are no ordinary teens. With a ruthless adversary on their trail, Sara and Seth display astonishing supernatural abilities and Jack becomes a reluctant hero as he helps them evade their pursuer. As Witch Mountain reveals its long hidden secrets, Jack discovers that his passengers are the only key to saving the world!

My Take:

I recall the popularity of the original Witch Mountain films from the 1970's but quite honestly I don't remember ever seeing them in their entirety. I saw the trailer for Race to Witch Mountain and thought that it had a decent cast and looked like fun. The original premise remains intact with the story getting a bit of a reboot. Its root lies in Sci-Fi with light action/adventure based elements, and suspense that gives it more of an updated feel. It held my attention and I enjoyed its quick pace, action sequences, and casual humor. The storyline is pretty well rounded and contains a good cache of characters. Some of the dialogue and situations are a little corny but it's a kids movie so that's a given. I think that its target audience won't have any complaints. In fact there is enough depth here to probably keep young teens and adults from becoming bored. I like Dwayne Johnson and he seemed to enjoy working with his co-stars in this film. Annasophia Robb always does a nice job and I think she was the stronger of the two young performers. I am definitely a Carla Gugino fan so her presence automatically peaks my interest. I thought that the inclusion of cameos by Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann, who played the kids in the original movies, was a nice touch. Being a Disney film it had a feel good ending which for me is always welcomed. This isn't among the best Disney adventure films that I have seen but when it was over I felt it was fairly entertaining and could be enjoyed by the whole family.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for sequences of action and violence, frightening and dangerous situations, and some thematic elements.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 90

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:

Video: 86

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

Race to Witch Mountain comes to Blu-ray from Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 34 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.7 mbps.

This was an impressive looking video presentation from Disney. Colors were beautifully crafted with deeply saturated reds and a naturally rendered variety of tones that look glistened in high definition. Detail during brightly lit segments is abundant as the fine minutia in facial features, clothing and objects is clearly discernible. The definitively resolute image delivered sharp rendering of the various exterior locations and set designs which gave wide angle camera shots excellent dimension. Blacks were inky with excellent dynamic range and a near infinite sense of depth. There are quite a few scenes that take place in darkened areas, uneven light or at night. These segments displayed excellent contrast and depth of field which provided deep image penetration and appreciable gradational highlights. Delineation in these same scenes was slightly diminished but I wouldn't say that it adversely affected resolution but it did soften the image to a degree. A Light veil of grain was visible which gave the video a slightly gritty texture that was never intrusive.

The 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio lossless sound mix made excellent use of the entire system. This film has an active sound design that maintains good balance so the multitude of sound effects, music and dialogue can be clearly and easily interpreted by the audience. Dialogue is clearly articulated with excellent room penetration. Sound effects are accurately placed within the sound field which established a tight correlation between the onscreen information and what was being heard within the room. This applied to the additional rear channels as well. This created an immersive and engaging soundscape that wasn't overly aggressive but was abundantly rich in detail. Low frequency detail mixed to the subwoofer delivers rich, well extended bass response that provided tactilely dynamic impact that was occasionally room filling. I thought that this was an excellent and involving surround sound mix that enhanced to the three dimensional aspects of this film.

Bonus Features:

  • 7 deleted scenes with introduction by Director Andy Fickman

  • Bloopers - 3 minutes

  • (HD) Backstage Disney - 8 minute feature where Andy Fickman reveals the hidden references to the original Witch Mountain films and other fun facts

  • Digital Copy Bonus Disc - A standard definition version of the film that can be downloaded from a compatible PC to a portable media playback device

  • DVD Bonus Disc - a standard DVD version of Race to Witch Mountain

Final Thoughts:

Race to Witch Mountain is an updated version of the classic 1970s era films. It adds a modern spin, more action based elements and satisfying yet conventional storyline. Be that as it may I found it entertaining enough to hold my interest for it 90 + minute runtime. Its high definition video presentation on Blu-ray Disc from Disney isn't the best that I have seen from them but then again they have spoiled us with their past new release offerings on Blu-ray. Overall it looks great and sounds even better thanks to a strong DTS-HD MA lossless soundtrack. The weak link in this package is the bonus supplements. It includes several appropriately deleted scenes, an entertaining blooper reel, and a mildly interesting featurette that is hosted by Director Andy Fickman. As has been their practice of late, Disney has included a standard definition DVD version of the film and a digital copy that allows fans to take the movie on the go. While I enjoyed this film I wouldn't recommend it as a blind buy. Give it a rent and see if its worthy of adding to your collection.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)

Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen

Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)

Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor

Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier

Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control

Canton "Ergo" Series speakers

Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers

SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator

Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

1,763 Posts
I watched this last night. Picture quality was pretty good. The scene where they were getting busted was the best. The scene after they get out of the underground tunnel and get back into the taxi was very dark for some reason. I found it sort of distracting as this happened 1 or 2 times, but overall it was a good rpesentation.

Blu-ray Reviewer
15,753 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Originally Posted by SbWillie /forum/post/16919008

Haven't seen it yet but the girls went to see it @ the Warren...if it comes with a SD dvd I'll have to get it..

RALPH, so the LFE is pretty good/above average in this one?


Yes, I would say that you will be happy with the LFE output.


License to Chill
22,522 Posts
My family and I just watched the original Escape To Witch Mountain and Return From Witch Mountain over the weekend. I have the BD of Race To Witch Mountain first in my queue. Should be fun.

6 Posts

Originally Posted by Franin /forum/post/16932819

Aside from pq and sq did you enjoy the movie ?

Our 2 kids (11 & 7) and a few of their friends watched last night (all boys). One 7-yr old got bored and went off to play video games, the rest enjoyed it. I dozed off several times.

My biggest beef was that there was never any rhyme or reason to the multiple escapes. Sometimes the kids used alien powers, sometimes just the driver and his beat-up cab were enough to escape from very similar tight spots, sometimes it was just unbelievable stupidity on the part of the 400 elite federal agents. It felt way too transparent that they were simply able to escape this time because moving the plot forward required another chase so they could be cornered again and escape some other way the next time.

3,624 Posts
I guess I have to agree about the multiple escapes but I did enjoy the movie. It isn't something I would personally ever buy and a rental definitely sufficed.

PQ and AQ? No problems really personally but I've read from various forums that some folks weren't too keen about the quality.
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