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SCENE STEALER

'Race to Witch Mountain' calls for a real bang-up job

March 19, 2009|Rachel Abramowitz

When an alien kid with the power to control the molecular structure of his body goes head to head with an SUV on a desert highway, the result -- in "Race to Witch Mountain" -- is a mashed-up hunk of steel and car bits that dance around like asteroids. To achieve that, the filmmaking team secured a steel pole in the ground and hurled a driverless SUV -- meant to be evil government scientists pursuing two extraterrestrial teens -- along a straight track into the unrelenting metal object. "The pole won," says director Andy Fickman. "We went through two or three cars that day. The science of it: The pole always wins. We were only going 34 or 40 miles an hour. Imagine going 180 mph." Using seven cameras, Fickman repeated the camera moves, on the same spot, but with no car, just Alexander Ludwig, who plays the alien Seth, acting as if he's smashed head-on. "We film him getting up, and we yell, 'Now!' when the impact is happening," Fickman says. The scenes were meshed together. All carefully controlled. Except the fluffy flying vehicle parts. "You can't even plan what's going to fly off the car. We took the best of that and filled in the rest."

-- Rachel Abramowitz

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