Thursday, 26 December 2013

Under the Mountain (2009)

I watched the 1981 TV adaptation of Under the Mountain a little while ago, and while googling it, learned of a recent movie adaptation. So I ordered the DVD.

... it occurs to me that this may present a flaw in my plan to watch all my unwatched DVDs.

The movie makes the central characters a little older, which I think is a good idea for letting them get out and about doing things on their own and stumbling into the chase and action sequences. And those are sequences that it gets to a lot more quickly than the TV show did. Of course, they do have only half the running time, so that makes sense. I do think the faster pace is a good thing, though. The TV show was a bit slow in the early episodes.

In broad outline, the plot of the film matches that of the TV show (and presumably the book on which they are both based): slug-like aliens threaten to destroy the world by releasing Cthul -- ahem the 'Gargantua' -- while another, more friendly extraterrestial teaches a pair of twins how to unlock their special psychic gifts and prevent this cataclysm from happening. Many of the details are different, though. The friendly alien has far less power in this than in the TV show, which complicates the protagonist's lives a lot (and removes some of the 'why didn't he just do x?' elements of the plot). He's also not that friendly: he's tired and bitter and doesn't really think humans are up to the task he needs them to do.

This film isn't going to win any awards, but it's a solid enough bit of family-friendly SF/adventure, and I don't regret checking it out. If you were going to watch just one adaptation of the book, this is definitely the one I'd pick. The climax is unfortunately a bit on the weak side, but the rest of it is fun, and it's good to see a film where the protagonists, even when overmatched, are resourceful and brave.

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