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Under the Mountain (2009)

Sam Neill , Tom Cameron , Jonathan King  |  PG-13 |  DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sam Neill, Tom Cameron, Sophie McBride, Oliver Driver, Leon Wadham
  • Directors: Jonathan King
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: August 10, 2010
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003MWSAKA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,660 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Under the Mountain" on IMDb

Special Features

• Commentaries with Jonathan King (Co-Director) and Matthew Grainger (Co-Writer).
• Making-of Documentary (47 minutes)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

This feature adaptation of New Zealand author Maurice Gee's much-loved fantasy novel Under the Mountain benefits greatly from impressive CGI effects by the Oscar-winning Weta Workshop (The Lord of the Rings) and the presence of Sam Neill as a mysterious figure who aids two telepathic teens in a bid to save the world. The title was previously filmed as a miniseries in 1982, and cowriter-director Jonathan King--light years away from his debut film, the deliriously gory Black Sheep--works hard to compress the source material into a 90-minute film, which ups the age of its twin protagonists Rachel (Sophie McBride) and Theo (Tom Cameron) from age 12 to mid-teens and reduces their mentor, Mr. Jones (Neill), to an enigmatic cipher. The shorter running time also favors the action elements of the story, which involve the teens' discovery that their neighbors, the Wilberforces, are alien slugs who care for a monstrous, world-devouring race called the Gargantua, over the relationship between the siblings, which formed the backbone of the original novel and the reason why it found a place in the heart of so many preteen readers. As a result, teen viewers--the film's clear target audience--will either find Under the Mountain a thrilling adventure or a noisy, messy fright fest, depending on their particular tastes. However, the Weta effects are typically top-notch, especially in regard to the hideous Wilberforces. The DVD includes commentary by King and cowriter Matthew Grainger, who discuss, among other topics, the influence of H.P. Lovecraft's writing on their film's aesthetics, as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette. --Paul Gaita

Product Description

Teenage twins Rachel and Theo travel to Auckland to stay with relatives following the sudden death of their mother. Where there was once a psychic bond between them, now there is a rift as Theo, particularly, refuses to confront his grief. Rachel reaches out to him, but is rebuffed. Staying with their Aunt Kay and Uncle Cliff on Lake Pupuke, the twins are fascinated by the volcanic lake and the smell that seems to come from the creepy old Wilberforce house around the shore. They visit Mt. Eden, where Theo sees Mr. Jones, a strange old man from whose hands fire seems to glow. When it seems the twins are being watched – and that the Wilberforces can smell them – Theo resolves to investigate the Wilberforce house. Inside, he and Rachel find what can only be an alien environment. They overhear Mr. Wilberforce talking about something stirring beneath the ground. He says he will kill the twins if they find “the fire-raiser.” Rachel is alarmed and reaches out to Theo but, terrified of getting close to anyone since his mother’s death, he pushes her away and sets out alone to find the fire-raiser – the man he saw on the mountaintop.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eh, I've seen worse February 28, 2011
By Einsatz
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Most of the necessary ingredients were there so this should have been a successful film. Billed as a Sci-Fi/Adventure, this 2009 New Zealand production though, is anything but successful. Fantastic special effects aside, the story feels incomplete, the pacing is odd, the sense of urgency slips from time to time with unnecessary distractions, the dialog was everything except informative, and the acting uniformly dull (Sam Neil in particular looked as if he wanted to be somewhere else doing anything but this movie.). The only element that worked was the spooky shape shifters living next door. If the rest of the movie had managed to capitalize on that instead of splintering off into a lackluster teen angst movie of the week this might have worked. Instead, with too many things that didn't make sense, this movie just drifted from one inexplicable scene to another: the `split' of the twins was arbitrary and forced, the sequence in the police station useless, why did the aunt and uncle keep disappearing? In addition, some of the reactions to danger were obscenely ludicrous (who, upon hearing their neighbors want to kill them, just go to bed. Or, while your front door is being broken down, just stand there and watch until the intruder is upon you!?). Crazy. What a waste.

I will add that I'm glad I watched it, but it's not a keeper.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, fantastic performances September 10, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a terrific movie, with great performances from its young stars. The writing and direction really brought out the best in them. What's more, the world the story portrays is great fun and a little scary.

Highly recommended. It's good stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovecraft for family viewers January 23, 2012
Format:DVD
While I haven't read Mark Gee's original novel or seen the 1981 TV serial, research indicates that Jonathan King's feature version of UNDER THE MOUNTAIN has altered elements of the story to make it more Lovecraftian than the original. The Wilberforces (the evil aliens) in the TV version are slug-like. Here, they are masses of writhing tentacles on a human frame. The concept of the main malevolent creatures slumbering under mountains and at the bottom of the lake, awaiting their followers to open a mystical door that will unleash them on our world is also very Lovecraftian. The glimpse of one of these creatures sleeping in a mountain cave could easily be Cthulhu itself! The glowing stones the twins to battle the Wilberforces remind me of August Derleth's invention of the star-stones. Then there is the blurring of science fictional ideas with the supernatural. Again, it is Lovecraftian in approach.

I am inclined to agree with MadMac's review on the on the one point that the twins Theo and Rachel would have served the story better if they had been younger, instead of teens. In fact, the twins in the TV version are 11 years old. Still I can't fault the performances of Tom Cameron and Sophie McBride.

Sam Neil is very good in this type of role as an authoritative mysterious, benevolent alien/sorcerer. His presence is one of the things that lured me to seek this film out.

I have to side with those reviewers who enjoyed the film. It is moody and mysterious. The story builds at a steady pace and erupts into a satisfying climax. The Wilberforces and their masters are unsettling but NOT overly gross. There is really no gore to speak of or large body count. If director Jonathan King was in fact shooting for a Lovecraftian film the whole family could watch, this is it. I think it works on that level.

I caught film on one of the premium movie channels, but I do plan to purchase a copy of it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining September 23, 2013
Format:Amazon Instant Video|Verified Purchase
I had seen this years ago, but didn't remember it well, just pieces. I very much enjoyed seeing it again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Zealand Location. May 6, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
We've been to New Zealand (where this took place). It was fun to see locations we knew. Story was interesting.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Flat and Uninspired June 2, 2011
By MadMacs
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I can't tell you how disappointed I was viewing 'Under The Mountain'.

Sam Neill, at least for the most part, has been a given winner the past few decades. He's been involved with very few duds, so I treat him like Apple stock, a blue chip given.

However, not everything he touches is golden - this being a clear example.

'Mountain' has the hallmarks of a quality film - the cinematography, set design and special effects are equal to anything produced out of Hollywood. And utilizing the stunning wonder of New Zealand is, as always, breathtakingly beautiful. I also appreciated how the writers engineered the natural history of The Land Of The Kiwis into the story.

But this horror-mystical-scifi thriller falls short on so many levels.

There are three reasons I think this failed.

First, because this flick doesn't know what it wants to be - it's a production in desperate need of an identity. It touches with and hints at several types of films, but because it only toys with each idea, there's never a full commitment by the director as to what he wants to deliver to us, the audience. Therefore, we never know how to engage the story. It doesn't help that plot-holes abound.

Once heard a funny and very revealing observation about the creative process that kept running in the back of my mind while watching this production. The late Alexander Godunov played a wonderful character in the film 'The Money Pit'. Frustrated watching the ineptitude of a workman repeatedly dabbing paint onto an unfinished doorway, he snatches the brush away and says, "Up...down. Up...down. Paint. Don't tickle."

Truer words have never been spoken about any creative endeavor.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars the dvd plays great. The case showed no damage
Hastle free order and arrival time was as promised.
the dvd plays great. The case showed no damage.
How is the movie? Read more
Published 19 days ago by Karen J
5.0 out of 5 stars Great New Zealand Film
If you aren't familiar with New Zealand film making, this would be a great way to introduce yourself to it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by B. Dunn
4.0 out of 5 stars Good family movie
Twins save the world...okay sounds silly but this is a family movie. What else can I say but the story was interesting, the pace of the movie was just right (not to slow that you... Read more
Published 2 months ago by pilot27k
2.0 out of 5 stars Lovecraft? About 5min worth
The thing that perked my interest here were the reviewers who mentioned a subtle Lovecraft connection.

Subtle all right. About 3 seconds worth. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sabooski the Cat
3.0 out of 5 stars Not enough tunnel action
I have memories of watching the original series back in 1981 when I was just a child (~8 yrs), and what fascinated me the most was the tunnels the giant slugs used to travel from... Read more
Published 20 months ago by B-man
5.0 out of 5 stars I may be biased, but what a terrific movie
I own up to having a family connection to Rangitoto (for overseas viewers, that's the volcano in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour that takes a central role in the movie) and that might... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Earl B
1.0 out of 5 stars under the mountain
This arrrived immediately and was in excellent condition. That was the end of the good points as far as we were concerned. Not our kind of movie. Read more
Published on June 16, 2012 by A. Hudson
1.0 out of 5 stars Pollution of the Mind
The title says it all, (Pollution of the mind) do yourself a favour, don't encourage the film industry to make more rubbish like this. Absolute Garbage!!!!
Published on February 7, 2012 by Brumby92
5.0 out of 5 stars Under the mountain
I loved the movie. Special affects and mystery was all grand. I watched it twice in a roll and a week later watched it again. Read more
Published on August 11, 2011 by B. Davis
3.0 out of 5 stars stick to the orignal
This film while having some of the same ideas as the original series/book sadly departed from the greatness that made it (the original) a good show/book. Read more
Published on June 24, 2011 by Kevin Meyers
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