Over the weekend I found myself with a hankering to see lousy movies. Well was I in luck OR WHAT! Because a late Easter means a perfect shit storm of kids films and blockbusters not quite good enough to wait until official blockbuster season arrives (first weekend in May*). So it came to pass that I saw the Star Trek trailer FOUR TIMES (off the cliff, off the cliff!!!) at the Wood Green Cineworld during films that I would have been tempted to join the rest of the audience in talking over and making mobile phone calls. Note, none of these films cost me money, merely time which I am now chalking up to some sort of anthropological / psychological study to distract from the fact that I actively wanted to watch these films on purpose.

I will leave you guessing what the other three were, but the first of this perfect shit storm was Disney remake/reimagining/retarded RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN. It was also quite possibly the best of the four films I saw. Basically humanoid kiddie aliengs crash land their spaceship, run to Las Vegas, then hire a cab to get back to their crashed ship. I say basically because there is a Terminatoresque (not Terminator X) killing machine chasing them and the usual government Men In Black incompetently almost capturing them for an hour and a half. Oh and they have to pick up a science experiment because the secret of intergalactic salvation is hidden on Earth.

All the big sci-fi movies of later have had the same plot. The world is DOOMED by mankind, global warming will be our downfall. From the explicit in The Day The Earth Stood Still (And Fell Asleep Out Of Boredom), to the more metaphorical Knowing (That Wasn’t A Very Good Film But The Released It Anyway). And so too with Race To Witch Mountain: except it being a Disney kids film there is a twist. The aliengs have destroyed their planet environmentally too, so the kids come to earth because the solution is here. Yep, the Earth is not doomed (except by evil aliengs taking us over), we will survive. Though out taxis may get dented in the process, as Dwayne Johnson discovers. Surely he remembers why he called himself The Rock? Because its a better name than Dwayne. Anyway he drives the kids who are aliengs but are alieng kids so that’s OK, through all sorts of adventures, hooking up with kiddie film friendly (must try harder) Carla Gugino in the process. Its all thoroughly disposable, has pointless call backs to the much duller seventies Witch Mountain movies and all feels second hand in a way that is novel because they haven’t made a film quite like this in twenty years.

Indeed the problem with the movie, beyond its low IQ plotting, is that you feel more than a bit of sympathy for the Men In Black, just doing their job in trying to contain the ailengs. There is a point where Ciaran Hinds, head MIB, says “They may look like children, but they are not, they are aliengs.” And you know what, he is right. Because even though they turn out to be alieng children, they cause no end of mayhem, trouble and containment and communication does not seem like a terribly bad idea. They did crash their spaceship after all! (Basically teenage joyriders). At least the spaceship is a proper bona fide FLYING SAUCER!

In the meantime Dwayne Johnson seems to be boxing himself into Hulk Hogan roles he need not do (he is not a great actor, but he can do action and comedy which suggests a better action comedy would suit him more). Its 98 minutes long (which makes it the longest of the four films I saw this weekend) which is a black mark against it. But it was the best of a bad bunch, and has a very low meaningless statement coupled with meaningful stare quotient. However the biggest problem lies int he film title: my computer keeps suggesting that I mean Race To That Mountain, and I think it would have been a better film.

*I have a feeling this is something to do with
a) Salmon swimming upstream
b) The notoriously conservative and rightwing movie industry trying to distract the world from international workers celebrations on May Day
c) Far enough away from the Oscars to make us forget that movies are supposed to be good
d) Close enough to the Oscars so we remember that all the Oscar movies, unlike blockbusters, are dull
e) Explosion rationing when there is a R in the month