Return from Witch Mountain (1978)

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Released 12-May-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1978
Running Time 89:55
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Hough
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Bette Davis
Christopher Lee
Kim Richards
Ike Eisenmann
Jack Soo
Anthony James
Richard Bakalyan
Ward Costello
Christian Juttner
Brad Savage
Poindexter Yothers
Jeffrey Jacquet
Stu Gilliam
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Lalo Schifrin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.75:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
Dutch
Norwegian
Danish
Swedish
Finnish
Portuguese
French Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Tony and Tia are back, and this time they face their most powerful foes...each other! When the pair's Uncle Bene drops them off in Los Angeles (via a flying saucer in the middle of the Rose Bowl!), the pair are under the impression that they are in for a bit of rest and relaxation while spending time among the human population. Soon, however, things take a turn for the worse as a taxi trip to the wrong side of town leads to the discovery of Tony's telekinetic powers by a power-mad pair, Dr. Victor Gannon (the legendary Christopher Lee) and his accomplice Letha (the equally legendary Bette Davis).

    Seizing the opportunity, Dr. Gannon and Letha kidnap Tony and take him back to their residence where they, with the help of their henchman Sickle (ultimate 70s baddie Anthony James), plan to use a mind control device to make Tony use his powers for their evil deeds. Meanwhile, Tia, desperate to find her brother, comes to the aid of a young group of street kids who in return offer their services to find Tia's brother. Dr. Gannon and Letha attempt a brazen daylight robbery at a museum where they attempt to steel a ton of gold bars. When the plot is foiled mid-way by Tia, Gannon and Letha plan an even more dastardly deed; to take charge of a nuclear power plant and with the powers of Tony at their disposal hold the entire city of Los Angeles to ransom.

    Now, in one last ditch effort to save her brother, Tia and her gang of friends must infiltrate the power plant and stop the impending core meltdown before it's too late. This time it's brother against sister, mind against mind and good against evil...and the lives of millions are at stake!

    This is a fairly pedestrian follow-up effort to the 1975 film Escape to Witch Mountain. Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards (aunt to Paris and Nicky Hilton) reprise their roles as the other-worldly brother and sister with incredible mind powers, but things are not near as good as they were with the first film. The 'special' effects are terrible, and just one year after the groundbreaking Star Wars, one might have thought that the studio would have made more of an effort. Even the presence of screen greats Christopher Lee and Bette Davis isn't enough to lift this film from being a very average follow-up to an average film.

    As was the case with the first film, there won't be much here to appeal to the age group that this film was intended for originally, and only those who remember the film from its initial theatrical release will perhaps enjoy the film as a bit of nostalgia.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video here is reasonable, considering the age, stature and budget of the film.

    The feature is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.75:1, with the appropriate 16x9 enhancement.

    The level of sharpness here varies from one section of the film to another. Grain is a contributing factor, as is the various film stock used. Some of the special effects elements also hamper the clarity of the image. Still, the feature is watchable and this is probably the best that the film has looked since its release. Shadow detail is workable, but far from reference quality. I had no issues with low level noise.

    Despite what the disc's cover states, this disc is presented as a single layer (unlike Escape to Witch Mountain, which is RSDL), but due to the lack of extras and the rather short length of the film, an average bitrate of approximately 5.00 Mb/s is achieved. This keeps most of the MPEG nasties at bay. Edge enhancement is present throughout the feature, with a standout example visible at 55:45. Grain is an issue, with 36:09 showing how bad it gets. Yet just a few seconds later (36:12), the grain is gone, which is probably due to a different film stock being used. There is a strange shadow visible at the bottom left of the print at 71:31, but this is a one-off and is only on screen for a second.

    There are 12 subtitle options available with the English being of reasonable accuracy without being word for word.

    This disc is formatted single layer and as such, a layer change is not an issue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio here is adequate to serve the film, but is nothing out of the ordinary.

    There are 3 audio options here, these being English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mixes running at the most basic 192 Kb/s.

    I found the dialogue quality to be reasonable, but I also found the sound level to be quite low compared to the Escape to Witch Mountain disc. Audio sync is also of a reasonable quality.

    Music for the film comes from prolific film score composer Lalo Schifrin. Many will know some of Lalo's compositions, such as the theme to Mission: Impossible, Starsky and Hutch, Dirty Harry, Enter the Dragon, THX-1138, Rush Hour and Shrek 2 just to name a few. The music for this film fits the bill, but isn't anything overly memorable. Perhaps great films inspire great scores.

    There is little surround information for your processor to derive. It will probably be able to generate a slight rear atmospheric presence, but don't expect too much. LFE is pretty much non-existent here.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Nothing here, folks.

Menu

    After the Language Selection menu, we are taken to the distributor's logo and then the Main Menu which presents the following:     The Main Menu features music from the film's soundtrack. It is presented static with 16x9 enhancement.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As is the case with the previous film, we get a bare-bones disc here. As I stated in my review for The Parent Trap , it seems as though Buena Vista Home Entertainment doesn't think that the Region 4 market is worthy of its attentions in terms of product quality with its older films. Here's what we miss out on with this one:     In comparison, the Region 1 disc misses out on the following:
      Once again, we miss out. There would be no reason that you would choose the Region 4 disc over the far superior Region 1 disc. On a side note, the language options available for the first film are different from what we have with this film. The first offered English, French and German in Dolby Digital 5.1 while we have English, French and Spanish 2.0 mixes here. The subtitles for both are also different with this disc offering several languages in addition those offered with the first film, but without German. A minor feature, but something I noticed.

Summary

    This will be a trip down nostalgia lane from some, but that'll be about it. Because of the huge lack of extras here, those who do remember the film and wish to add it to their collection can only look to Region 1 for a decent package, as the one on offer here is of fairly ordinary value. If you want the film only, go for it. Otherwise, Region 1.

    The video is watchable and probably the best the film has looked in years.

    The audio is simple but works for the material.

    There are no extras at all.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Sunday, October 31, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Another spoilerish question - I think I should get this REPLY POSTED