Under the Mountain

Under the Mountain

(2009)

Black Sheep director Jonathan King adapts Kiwi novelist Maurice Gee's classic tale for the screen. Teenage twins Rachel (Sophie McBridge) and Theo (Tom Cameron) investigate the spooky house next door, only to discover the Wilberforces – shape-shifting creatures, lead by Mr Wilberforce (Oliver Driver), that lurk beneath Auckland's ring of extinct volcanoes. With the help of the mysterious Mr Jones (Sam Neill) and their older cousin Ricky, the twins must rekindle the unique powers they once shared if they are to destroy this ancient evil.... More

Written in 1979, the novel has been made into a television series but has never made it to the big screen until now.Hide

Flicks Review

Under The Mountain's central quest - where two people must save the world by throwing something into a volcano - feels very similar to Frodo's quest in the Lord of the Rings series. It's nice to see that New Zealand can still make good-looking effects filled fantasy films. Auckland appears foreboding and dark in all the right ways.... More

This is a chaotically paced movie. Good thing Sam Neill is in the cast, because he goes to great pains to explain what's going on. Those who are completely befuddled will enjoy having clarity added to a messy narrative but cynics like myself are wary of all-knowing, all-wise, magical characters; they tend to pop up in stories where the writers can't think of a better way of resolving tricky situations.

At least Under the Mountain is a family film that is unabashedly scary. Youths are strangled, mothers die, there are tentacle-wielding aliens and they even drive a hearse. 12-year-old boys will lap all of this up but parents with sensitive youngsters should be careful when they check its rating. In terms of violence, it's similar to the recent Harry Potter flicks.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 17 ratings, 15 reviews
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Having had this book read to us in school, and having watched the T.V. series I had high expectations of this film. As a book it was good for adults and children but the movie fails to cross the bridge between the generations. The screenplay is poorly written, the characters do not develop well, and the acting is overblown and wooden. The special effects are so so. Ok for T.V. perhaps but not worthy of a feature film. I suspect most of this comes down to poor direction.


Only good for a 6 yr old...sooooo disappointing.


I hardly ever comment on these kinds of things - but having just seen this movie - I feel I should say something.

First off, this comment - "but Ricky was amazing! Hilarious and had the audience in fits!"

Are you serious? I had to close my eyes and hide behind the couch whenever he was on camera! His overacting was so much cringingly scarier than all the Doctor Who episodes combined!

Sam Neil is a great actor - but not even he and the amazing WETA effects can save this film. The film... More features the typical horribleness of new zealand actors (I myself am a kiwi) who find themselves in a feature film - a totally lack of subtlety. I'm thinking particlarly of the cousin (Ricky) who squalked and over acted embarrasingly along with the scene when the mother shows the girl her room is cringe material and I physically groaned as the mother tried to make her dramatic 5 seconds by smothering any shade of realism the scene requiered.

I read the book - maybe 14 times when I was young...
But New Zealanders need not be proud of this movie - it seriously just blows and anybody who says any differently is either on the films payroll or hopefull of some kind of backrub by NZ on air.
Whalerider - great, Flight of the Conchords, stunning, Under the mountain - epic failure (and I tried to get hopefull)Hide


It was pretty average and never really developed much suspense. I really like the ending with Rachel's full powers erupting into flames but the music really annoyed me. They should have kept the original beginning with the twins meeting Mr Jones when they were very young and lost in the bush. Mr Jones and the twins should have had telepathy right from the start and it would have got it all moving a lot faster. Also is that comment 'Ssoo Good' by Kian (see above) really written by a 9 year old??... More Seems more like some PR person trying to hype the film to me.Hide


This was done really well and showcased the Auckland city skyline well. Oliver Driver was an awesome Mr Wilberforce and Sam Neil's character showed his acting class. The two twins were played well and the special effects, especially the tunnel sequences, were world class. A really good version of the book.


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The Press Reviews

  • Fans of King's Black Sheep who are still holding on to faint hope that Under The Mountain may contain some of the gonzo spirit of that film need to disabuse themselves of that notion right now. This is an entirely different sort of film, one made with entirely different aims, with an entirely different audience in mind. And it's one that succeeds in meeting its goals just as well as Black Sheep did. This is solid, broadly commercial film making for kids and while not a classic by any stretch it is very strong and will certainly find a large and appreciative audience. Full Review

  • Entertaining, well-mounted Kiwi children's thriller... Kids will be safely spooked by muddy ghouls, and adult guardians will feel the time pass comfortably. Full Review

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