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After their mother dies, teen twins Rachel and Theo are sent to live with relatives in Auckland, where they come across three alien races. The seven shapeshifting Wilberforces love all things rotten and seek to lay waste all of Earth through the power of the seven Gargantua, enormous slug-like creatures trapped, one apiece, under Auckland's seven volcanoes but soon to free themselves. Mr. Jones is an alien too, the surviving twin of a pair come to use their fire powers on the other aliens. Only twins can unleash the firepower from a set of magic stones, but after failure with a previous set of twins, Jones hasn't much hope for Rachel and Theo, though he doesn't know they can tele-communicate with each other. Written by
Fantasy/Sci-fi at its best, just great storytelling and lush production
I attended the North American Premiere of "Under the Mountain" at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. The film is a love song to New Zealand's volcanoes. Jonathan King's fantasy tale is "Lord of the Rings" meets "Alien" -- it may be a bit scary for younger kids, though. Sam Neill does a star turn here as an aging wizard-like Fagan. Only he has the knowledge to help save the world from the evil Gargantua. But it's up to teenage twins Theo and Rachel (young newcomers Tom Cameron and Sophie McBride) to wield the power. The charming kids steal the show here and couldn't be more engaging. The multi-layered story more than held my interest -- there's plenty here for adults and youth alike. Production values are stellar with mind-boggling visual and special effects, and "Under the Mountain" boasts one of the best scores I've heard in a long time. The lush cinematography amounts to a New Zealand travelogue. The film is dazzling and puts many others of its ilk to shame. "Under the Mountain" should do well among family audiences.
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