Headline : Disney Returns to Witch Mountain
By : Shannon Brigham
In “Race to Witch Mountain,” Las Vegas taxi driver Jack Bruno, played by Duane 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 and Seth, played by AnnaSophia Robb and 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, they 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 his passengers are the only key to saving the world.
“Race to Witch Mountain,” which is coming to DVD this month, was inspired by the classic Disney adventures “Escape to Witch Mountain” and “Return From Witch Mountain.”
The story reinvented for the 21st century is packed with tons of special effects, car chases and family-friendly thrills. From beginning to end, the action never stops.
In a telephone interview with AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig, the two teen stars agree that the cast and crew formed a close bond both on and off screen.
Ludwig says that is indicative of the movie’s overall theme as well.
“It’s not blood that makes a family. It’s the connection that you have that truly makes it.
“It [the movie] really shows how people from literally two different worlds can come together and despite all their differences form this strong emotional bond to the point where they’d die for each other. It is truly an amazing story.”
Robb says it was fun to work with director Andy Fickman, and he helped them ease into their roles as Sara and Seth.
“We were taught together to create our characters so we were in sync with each other so we would come off like we were actually siblings.”
The first day of filming fell on April Fools Day and the teens wrapped Fickman’s trailer door and toilet with cellophane.
Though too young by law to perform their own stunts, Robb says the two were able to watch one of the explosions first hand, from a distance.
“There was actually a second camera filming the whole time that principal photography was shooting. So when the movie came out all these scenes we didn’t even know existed were in the movie, so it was really cool.”
The movie also includes subtle references to the original Witch Mountain films, including special appearances by Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann, who played siblings Tina and Tony in the classic 1970s Disney films. Ludwig says he was honored to work with them and Robb says Richards mentored her.
“It’s like the next chapter of Witch Mountain history : they talked about the old movies and how the old Disney lot was set up. It was cool to hear about their pasts. She just said, ‘really enjoy this moment. Enjoy this part of your life because it’s really special. It’s part of what made me who I am today.'”