Australian Council on Children and the Media

Race to Witch Mountain

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Not suitable under 8, Not recommended under 10, PG to 13 due to violence, scary scenes and themes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Race to Witch Mountain
  • a review of Race to Witch Mountain completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 9 April 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to violence, scary scenes and themes
Children aged 8-10 Not recommended due to violence, scary scenes and themes
Children aged 10-13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, scary scenes and themes
Children over the age of 13 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Race to Witch Mountain
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild action violence
Length 94 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson) is an ex mobster who is now earning an honest living driving tourists around Las Vegas. He finds two teenage children, who have appeared out of nowhere, sitting in the back seat of his cab. Seth (Alexander Ludwig) and Sara (Anna Sophia Robb) ask Jack to drive them to the desert telling him it is urgent that they get to there without delay. Jack finds their money too good to refuse and accepts the fare. However, before Jack and his mysterious passengers travelled too far down the highway they find themselves pursued by government agents in black SUVs headed by Henry Burke (Ciaran Hinds). Seth uses superhuman powers to crash the pursuing vehicles and Jack, thinking that the occupants are mobsters, warns them off.
Jack, Seth and Sara travel to an abandoned shack in the middle of the desert where the teenagers reveal their alien identity and the three are attacked by an alien predator called a Siphon.
After another escape from government agents, Jack decides to head back to Las Vegas to enlist the help of Dr Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino). Alex takes Jack and the children to meet Dr. Donald Harlan (Garry Marshall), an expert on government conspiracy and UFO cover-ups. Harlan tells them that the government is holding Seth and Sara’s spaceship at a secret government base inside Witch Mountain. Jack, Alex and the children leave Las Vegas and head straight for Witch Mountain with the Siphon in close pursuit.     

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Aliens; UFOs

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Race to Witch Mountain contains frequent action violence, violence against children, some intensity and peril, infrequent threats of violence and some intimidation. For example:

  • A speeding spaceship crashes in the desert. The impact of the crash causes an explosion and the aftermath resembles a bomb blast with burning bushes and blackened ground.
  • Two men wearing Star Wars Storm trooper costumes get into the back of Jack’s cab and point replica weapons at him. Jack snatches the weapons away from them.
  • Two large mob henchmen approach Jack and order him to accompany them to a meeting with their boss. Jack refuses and a fight erupts with Jack punching one of the men in the face and elbowing the other in the stomach. One of the henchmen says “You’re dead Jackie” and opens his jacket to reveal a handgun. A police car arrives and the men walk away.
  • Three black SUVs containing government agents drive up behind Jack’s cab and attempt to push him off the road. Seth dissolves into the back seat of the cab to reappear on the road in front of an oncoming SUV. The vehicle crashes head-on into Seth, the front of the van crumples inwards and it catapults over the top of Seth, who appears indestructible. Jack, who is holding a tyre lever, gets out of his cab and approaches the wrecked van. He tells the occupants of the van, who he mistakenly believes are mob henchmen, to leave him alone, hitting the body of the van with the tyre lever before he walks away.
  • While in an underground cavern, Jack, Seth and Sara are attacked by an armoured alien creature called a Siphon. The Siphon uses a gun attached to its forearm to fire bolts of explosive energy at Jack and the children. We see lots of explosions, sparks and smoke.
  • The alien hits Jack with its arm and he hurtles through the air. It fires its weapon at a number of glowing gelatinous orbs hanging from the ceiling and they explode in flames. It strikes Seth and Sara with its arm, knocking them off their feet. Sara uses her powers to hurl a fireball at the alien creature, which is unaffected.
  • Jack drives his cab along a train track followed by the Siphon in its flying space craft. The Siphon’s craft fires blasts of energy at Jack’s cab creating lots of explosions, sparks and smoke and see the back of Jack’s cab lifted into the air when hit by a blast of energy. Jack drives his cab into a train tunnel followed by the Siphon’s flying craft and a train approaches the tunnel from the opposite direction. It appears as if Jack’s cab will collide head-on with train, but at the last moment Sara uses her powers to increase the speed of Jack’s cab. There is a large explosion in the tunnel as the Siphon’s space craft collides with the train and see train carriages being hurled through the air leaving a crash site that resembles a war zone.               
  • Dozens of armed soldiers point assault rifles at a café where Jack and the children are sitting. A group of agents wearing concealed hand guns walk into the café. When the town sheriff approaches, the agents pull out their guns and point them at the sheriff, the sheriff’s men and customers sitting in the café.
  • Sara uses her powers to cause numerous government and military vehicles to explode in a shower of sparks, smoke and flames. Soldiers and government agents firing their weapons at Jack’s cab with numerous bullets hitting the back of the cab, Jack and the children are uninjured. 
  • Jack threatens to kill two men       
  • Siphon attacks Jack and the children on stage at a Space Expo with a crowd of onlookers believing the fight to be staged. The Siphon fires a bolt of energy at the children, but the resulting explosion causes a hanging stage prop to fall down, hitting the Siphon and propelling it through the air and a stage wall.
  • While Jack, Alex and the children are walking on a mountain path, Sara and Seth are shot in the neck with darts and fall unconscious. Jack, Alex and the unconscious children are then surrounded by dozens of gun-wielding soldiers. Jack punches one soldier and a second soldier hits Jack in the face with a rifle butt, knocking him unconscious.
  • While being escorted from Witch Mountain in a SUV, and in a bid to create a diversion, Alex slaps Jack hard across the face. Jack then punches a guard in the face, grabs hold of a second guard and shoves the guard’s head through the van’s window.         
  • Seth and Sara are seen strapped unconscious to operating tables with various IV tubes attached to their bodies. We hear that the two have been drugged. Comments are made about the children being killed as a result of the examination and hear a command given to initiate testing.
  • The Siphon attacks soldiers inside Witch Mountain with numerous explosions and flying debris; soldiers are propelled through the air with lots of smoke and sparks. Soldiers fire at the Siphon, the bullets bouncing off an invisible force field.
  • While rescuing Seth and Sara from the operating tables, Jack punches and hits several people and throws one person through a glass window.
  • When Jack, Alex, Seth and Sara make it to the captured space craft they are surrounded by dozens of soldier, who point assault rifles at the children and fire at them. Bullets fly towards the children, compressing and falling to the ground as they reach the force field which the children have created around themselves.
  • The Siphon blows a hole through a wall and a battle erupts with the Siphon shooting at soldiers and them firing at the Siphon.
  • Inside a space craft, Jack fights with the Siphon. The Siphon punches Jack in the body and throws him against the ceiling. Later Jack punches the Siphon in the head, resulting in the Siphon falling down a shaft to be incinerated.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • dozens of people wearing white bio-hazard suits walk through a desert area that resembles a disaster zone with lots of small fires and blackened ground.
  • a quick image of a scorpion walking across desert sand.
  • inside a deserted shack, a dark menacing humanoid alien lurks in the shadows.
  • the alien Siphon is a helmeted predator. Towards the end of the film we see the creature with its helmet removed to reveal a slimy squid-like flesh-covered head with eyes but no mouth. 
  • An underground forest has large pulsating gelatinous orbs hanging from the ceiling. The orbs are egg like in appearance and appear to have some type of life within. We see Sara push her hand through the side of one of the orbs (we hear a squelching sound) and pull out an electronic device.    
  • CDs and other objects float in the air, controlled by Sara’s telekinetic powers.
  • Seth and Sara, in an unconscious state, are strapped to an operating table with tubes attached to their bodies. We hear that they have been drugged to keep them unconscious and they may die as a result of experiments carried out on them.
  • A guard dog snarls and snaps at Jack, and later bites the hand of another man.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Seth and Sara are hit in the neck with tranquilizer darts that render them unconscious and are later strapped to an operating table and kept unconscious with anaesthetic. 

Coarse language

There is some name-calling in this movie, including:

  • nut job
  • scum bag

In a nutshell

Race to Witch Mountain is a Disney science fiction action film likely to appeal to older primary aged children (ten years and over) and younger adolescents. The film is packed with action, explosions, smoke and sparks as well as car chases, danger and escapes. Children under the age of ten years may find the amount of violence and scary scenes overwhelming and possibly distressing.
The main message from this movie is that humans are capable of displaying selfless acts of compassion towards complete strangers even if they are aliens.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • selflessness and compassion
  • trust
  • perseverance through adversity


This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as

  • the way in which Sara and Seth are treated by the US government as “illegal aliens”
  • the  theft by Sara and Seth of money from an ATM        

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