RETURN TO HALLOWEENTOWN: ULTIMATE SECRET EDITION
MOVIE: ***(out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
Sara Paxton as MARNIE PIPER
Judith Hoag as GWEN CROMWELL PIPER
Lucas Grabeel as ETHAN DALLOWAY
J. Paul Zimmerman as DYLAN PIPER
Kristy Wu as SCARLETT SINISTER
Directed by: David Jackson
Studio: Disney Channel
BY KEVIN CARR
With Halloween coming faster than you think, the Disney Channel has released their 2006 original movie “Return to Halloweentown” on DVD. This film follows witch-in-training Marnie Piper (Sara Paxton) as she prepares to head back to Halloweentown for college. However, when she gets to Witch University, she learns that there are dark forces at work, manipulating the school and trying to get her to seize control of the entire town.
The biggest thing fans may notice is the replacement of Sara Paxton for the lead role. I personally found her a step up from Kimberly J. Brown, who originated the role and starred in the first three films. Paxton commands the character with more maturity and has a more mainstream accessibility.
As “Halloweentown 4,” this film has improved upon the previous two sequels, which were not as good as the first film. There seems to be a significant effort to make a compelling story beyond the disaster that was “Halloweentown High.”
The premise still has a bit of a Hogwarts feel to it, although it’s much more of a bubble gum movies than the Harry Potter films are. However, behind all the basic Disney Channel teenage relationship bits, there is a story with real peril in it. Fans might miss Debbie Reynolds as Marnie’s grandmother, but once the story gets going, it’s a nice Halloween treat for the family.
The DVD includes a making-of documentary that features interviews with the stars and a spotlight on the special effects.