Return from Witch Mountain appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.75:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While not as attractive as the transfer for Escape, Return looked quite positive.
Sharpness remained pretty solid. I noticed some light edge haloes and occasional instances of mild softness, but these remained minor. Overall, the image was concise and accurate. I detected no examples of shimmering or jagged edges, and not too many source flaws appeared. I saw sporadic signs of specks and marks, but these were within acceptable levels given the flick’s age.
As also was the case for Escape, Return boasted terrific color reproduction. Both movies offered vivid hues, and this DVD made the hues appear dynamic and full. Blacks were dense and deep, while shadows displayed good clarity and delineation. The different issues knocked my grade down to a “B”, but this was a satisfying presentation.
Though the DVD offered a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix, I found little that deviated from its monaural roots. Music seemed to remain stuck in the center, and effects essentially followed the same path. Some minor expansion from the middle channel offered modest expansion to the effects, but nothing remotely distinctive emerged. For all intents and purposes, the audio remained monaural.
Audio quality was average for its age. Speech came across as a bit thin and trebly but remained intelligible and without obvious flaws. Music lacked much range but also was reasonably clear and concise. In addition, I thought effects remained accurate enough. They featured some slightly boomy bass at times but usually were pretty one-dimensional. Overall, I thought the audio was mediocre.
As was the case with the DVD for Escape, most of the extras for Return already appeared on an earlier Special Edition release. We open with an audio commentary from director John Hough and actors Iake Eissinmann and Kim Richards. Compiled from two separate running, screen-specific tracks, the actors sit together while Hough watches the movie on his own. We learn about photographic choices, sets and locations, cast and performances, working at Disney, stunts and effects, dealing with animals and kids, and a few other production subjects.
While the Return commentary covers the same basic topics as the track for Escape, that doesn’t make it a carbon copy. This one turns into its own piece and provides a lot of good facts about the film. Once again, Hough offers the majority of the notes. He gives us many interesting details about the production and covers the film well.
Richards and Eissinmann indicate that although they were older when they made Return, they remember the experience less well when compared to Escape. They attribute this to the film’s lower profile; fewer people ask them about Return, so they have less reason to recall its specifics. Anyway, they toss in a few good anecdotes and add value. Overall, this is another entertaining and informative piece.
We also find another collection of Pop-Up Fun Facts. Through this subtitle commentary, we learn about sets and locations, cast and crew, background factoids, stunts and effects, and a few other production issues. The facts show up sporadically, so don’t expect a wealth of details. Nonetheless, they throw out some interesting tidbits, so they’re worth a look.
A few featurettes follow. Making the Return Trip goes for 22 minutes, 48 seconds and features Eissinmann, Richards, Hough, associate producer Kevin Corcoran, special effects artist Danny Lee, and actors Christian Juttner, Brad Savage, and Erik Yothers.
“Trip” looks at the development of the sequel and related challenges, script and story, cast and performances, experiences during the shoot, locations, stunts and effects, and the film’s legacy.
“Trip” manages to avoid too much repetition from the commentary. Of course, they can’t avoid some redundant material, but this piece still manages to stand on its own. “Trip” gives us a nice overview of the production and entertains along the way.
For some archival material, we go to Lost Treasure: Christopher Lee – The Lost Interview. In this 10-minute an 54-second piece, we find a vintage interview Lee did with a Spanish-language journalist. To my surprise, Lee takes and answers almost all of the questions in Spanish; I assumed an interpreter would be present.
“Treasure” is fun to see for that curiosity factor, but it doesn’t have much value to it in other ways. Lee mostly just discusses the story to Return, so he doesn’t provide much more than publicity. Still, it’s so odd that it’s worth a look. Where else will you find Lee’s attempt at singing opera?
In the two-minute and 53-second Disney Kids with Powers, we see clips from movies that deal with the paranormal. In addition to Return and Escape, we find snippets from flicks such as Mary Poppins, The Sword in the Stone and Freaky Friday.
Next we find The Gang’s Back in Town. During this eight-minute and 12-second program, we hear from Juttner, Savage and Yothers. All three sit together to reminisce about their experiences on Return. They tell us about their current lives and reflect on their acting careers. We don’t find a ton of deep information, but we get some interesting memories.
We take a period-specific look at the studio via the two-minute and 58-second 1978 Disney Studio Album. This shows us what Disney did that year in terms of movies, TV, theme park attractions and other endeavors. It turns into a cool way to check out the status of Disney circa 1978.
Finally, The Eyes Have It offers a vintage short. In this one, Donald Duck tries to use hypnosis glasses on Pluto, and his experiment works. It’s a strange cartoon but it proves oddly entertaining.
A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Blu-Ray Disc, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Race to Witch Mountain, Bedtime Stories and Disney Movie Rewards. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with promos for Bolt, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, Disney XD and Morning Light. No trailer for Return appears here.
Although I wasn’t wild about Escape to Witch Mountain, it looks like a classic next to its feeble sequel. Return from Witch Mountain actually had some potential, but it doesn’t succeed most of the time. The DVD presents good picture and extras but audio seems mediocre. Fans should like this generally positive release, but I can’t recommend the film itself; it seems mediocre at its best.