Movie Review: Return from Witch Mountain

by Josh Larsen
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Return from Witch Mountain

  • MPAA Rating: G
  • Running Time: 95 minutes
  • Recommended for ages 9+

A Mountain Not Worth Returning To

This sequel to 1975's Escape to Witch Mountain seems to take place in slow motion. If it was a drag for parents in 1978, its belabored slapstick, delayed reaction shots and woefully dated special effects will make it a drag for the whole family today.

The movie exists solely to create situations in which Tony and Tia use their powers to levitate objects. Unfortunately, that visual trick was unimpressive by the time this sequel came out -- a year after an effects breakthrough such as Star Wars. The gimmick feels even hokier to contemporary eyes.

With all this emphasis on floating objects, what's missing is the slight charm of the original, in which we had some sense of the fun and wonder of being a kid who had these sorts of powers. By comparison, "Return From Witch Mountain" is an aged, one-trick pony.

Kids Will Like:
The hideout of the kiddie gang that helps Tia find Tony. It's a dilapidated old mansion that they have entirely to themselves.

Parents Will Like:
The camp value of the interchanges between horror icon Lee and screen legend Davis. ("Power has come into our hands that is centuries ahead of its time," he booms, while Davis struggles to widen her eyes.) Of course, if you have any affection for Davis in her prime, her presence here is also somewhat sad.

Heads Up:
Lee's scientist employs a mind-control device to make Tony use his powers for evil purposes, a harrowing theme that becomes even more so when he commands Tony to try and kill Tia. Tony is tied down and injected with a sedative at one point; Tia is later made unconscious when a bad guy holds a tainted cloth over her face.

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