Monday, March 11, 2013


Directed by: Sam Raimi
Written by: Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire, based on a book by L. Frank Baum
Starring: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis and Zach Braff 
Synopsis: A travelling circus magician gets transported to a far away land where he learns to not be such an a-hole. 

OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL had a lot going against it. It's the prequel to a beloved classic movie, and looks like a Disney movie that closely resembles an awful lot like that terrible ALICE IN WONDERLAND remake. I came away being really surprised and really enjoying it by the end. Since this is a 3D film, I need to clarify up front that I didn't see in 3D.

One of biggest flaws of the film for me was the world of Oz itself. While it was a beautifully rendered world, but it had no weight to it. The movie ended up feeling a lot like 300 or some other green screen-only movie. When the action was occurring, especially when it was just the characters interacting with the environment, it felt like I was watching a cartoon. On the flip side, the characters such as Finley, the Zach Braff monkey character, and the China Girl looked amazing as CGI only characters. I do wish that director Sam Raimi would have used at least more pronounced sets and backgrounds for the world to feel a little more real. Maybe that's not the point. Maybe it's supposed to feel like a weird dream that doesn't actually exist.

Let me preface the fact that while I have seen the original WIZARD OF OZ, I haven't seen it since I was a little kid so I can't comment 100% on the more subtle references to the original. However, I remember that the original movie implied that Oz was not a real place. I also remember that a big part of the theme of the movie was "there's no place like home." Which makes what happens in the movie literally and thematically very interesting.

The movie starts of similar to the original OZ film, in black and white, by showing us what kind of person Oscar "Oz" Diggs working as a magician in a travelling carnival. The simple truth? He was a complete asshole. He mistreats his friend, he flirts with ladies by giving them a music box that his grandma gave him, mind you he has multiple music boxes, and he's a greedy bastard. At the beginning of the movie, he breaks a woman's heart, he tells a little girl that he can't fix her after his magic act, and other awful acts before being magically transported to the land of Oz where he finds Theodora (Kunis), one of the witches, who tells him he is part of a Hero's Prophecy that foretold him vanishing the Wicked Witch.

During the course of the movie, I enjoyed seeing the slight transformation of Oz as a character. He gets a chance to redo the mistakes that he had done in the "real world" which is pretty interesting. While THE WIZARD OF OZ seems to be a story about a girl that realizes that home is a good place to be and Oz is a metaphor for her to realize this. In OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, the land of Oz is a place of redemption and a way to better oneself. Not to get into "spoiler" territory but the fact that he stays in Oz is the ultimate symbol of character growth for Oz. James Franco does a fine job with the character. He plays a slimy asshole just fine and he bring a great comedic angle to the character. The worst thing about the character is just how much he is always yelling and screaming, "Whoa!" when falling down or being chased by a monster.

I also particularly enjoyed the three witches, Theodora, Evanora, and Glinda. Unfortunately we didn't get a lot of time with them. Glinda was the one that got the most screen time as Oz's companion for the majority of the film, but I would have wanted to hear more about her past and the relationship between the witches before Oz got there. I want to also give kudos to all three ladies who, in their own way, really own their individual characters. Michelle Williams is able to bring a very kind sort of confidence to Glinda while looking insanely gorgeous. Rachel Weisz who is typically one to play villain chews on the scenery in the best of ways. And Mila Kunis. She was my favorite character who's character was unfortunately cut short by time constraints or a slightly sloppy screenplay. Theodora was the character that was affected by Oz and his actions. I think that their relationship and interactions really cut her character's development short, and it needed to get some more development.

What amazed me the most about OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL as the fact that by the time that we get to the climax, most of the theater including myself were cheering and clapping. It's a surprisingly positive movie with a good message. I hope that we are able to see more sequels and movies within this world.

No comments:

Post a Comment