A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Escape to Witch Mountain" is the Disney organization's annual Easter movie, and a pretty good one. Too often in the past, the Disney liveaction features have been impossibly bland, too scrubbed and innocuous, to really hold the attention of all but the younger members of the family. But now here's a scifi thriller that's fun, that's cheerfully implausible, that's scary but not too scary, and it works.
The story involves a young brother and sister, who were in some sort of mysterious shipwreck and left with a "star case" that has a picture of two suns on its top. The kids have powers: They can communicate by telepathy, levitate things, unlock doors, turn savage beasts against their masters and in general make Uri Geller look like amateur night. They're sent to an orphanage, and then they accidentally discover that the star case has a map inside leading them to the top of a nearby mountain.
Meanwhile, the girl reveals her power to predict the future by warning a rich tycoon about an accident he's about to have. The tycoon, played by Ray Milland, is named Aristotle Bolt after guess who. He has his evil henchman, Donald Pleasance, kidnap the kids so he can use their ESP. But they escape, hitch up with a friendly loner in a Winnebago camper (Eddie Albert) and the rest of the movie is devoted to a nicely pica resque series of chases.
There are, as we'd expect, lots of tricks from the Disney specialeffects wizards. It turns out the boy can make inanimate objects move just by playing a tune on his harmonica, and he scares the wits out of a sheriff by attacking him with a ghost made out of a hat stand and a raincoat. The kids make friends with a handy nearby bear, which keeps Pleasance at bay. And, let's see, it turns out the Winnebago can flyÑand then there's a sort of aerial dogfight between the camper and Ray Milland's helicopter. Both of them fly upside down on occasion, and the helicopter lands that way, spinning slowly to a halt.
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A look at John Sayles' brilliant "The Brother From Another Planet."