DVD reviews

Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Race To Witch Mountain and more of the week's DVD treats

Race To Witch Mountain

Dir Andy Flickman US (PG)

A fairly clunky relic of Disney’s spluttering ’70s live-action output, 1975’s Escape To Witch Mountain had the smart idea of putting two kids with telekinetic powers at the centre of a pursuit thriller. Effects technology may have progressed, but the idea of teen protagonists who can do cool stuff hardly dates for family audiences, hence this retooled version. Modernisation also brings a starring role for Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, as a Las Vegas cabbie who picks up an unusual fare – two peroxide-blonde youngsters (Alexander Ludwig, Anna Sophia Robb) with a penchant for circumlocutory English, a wad of cash and the power to move objects at will. Turns out they’re extraterrestrials, whose mission to save their planet could have ramifications for our own survival, especially if they’re collared by shady government agents tracking them in a fleet of black SUVs.

Leading man Johnson manages to exude brawn while keeping within the bounds of the PG rating, but though amiable, his acting limitations are exposed by a plot requiring him to express wonderment at the interplanetary shenanigans. There’s no shortage of zingy (if derivative) material, but the filmmakers seem content with anodyne chase sequences and tired action moves, which register little impact. It’s pacy all right, but glib and uninvolving for grown-ups, though perhaps furnished with enough in the way of spaceships, lasers and digital explosions to pacify undemanding little ’uns of an afternoon.
Trevor Johnston
Dhs85 at Virgin Megastore

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Dir Steve Carr US (PG12)

Kevin James, last seen opposite Adam Sandler in the train wreck that was I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry, ups the quality quotient ever-so-slightly for this flour-and-water kiddie comedy where he plays the corpulent dimwit of the title, a widowed security officer (he’s never called a ‘mall cop’) for a shopping centre in California’s Orange County.

When a gang of tattooed, gun-toting le parkour experts lay siege to his mall, he’s put through a Dawn Of The Dead type set-up for which he sheds his bumbling idiot schtick and takes them out one by one. First thing to say is that this is only for the very young or easily pleased, with much of the humour deriving from James rolling about on the floor or crashing into the scenery on his Segway. Unmemorable, unfunny and unoriginal, this was a hit in the US, so brace yourself for the further adventures of Paul Blart in the not-too-distant future.
David Jenkins
Dhs85 at Virgin Megastore

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