Just the mere thought of making a prequel to the 1939 classic, The Wizard Of Oz, would be the sort of idea that Hollywood should be ashamed of. However, with the right direction and proper respect shown towards the original, a journey back to Oz could succeed. Oz The Great And Powerful does succeed, albeit with some small bumps down the yellow brick road.
Before I continue on Oz, lets get some pretty trailers…and their little dogs too!
TRAILERS ATTACHED TO OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL:
The Host – Saoirse Ronan is a fine young actress. I just hope this latest dreck from Stephenie Meyer (author of the Twilight Saga) doesn’t drag her down into K-Stew territory. : Sell My Stock!
The Croods – Anytime Nic Cage can be an animated voice, rather than an actor whose actions are animated, I’m ok with it. This should be a big hit with kids and their parents who have to sit through it. : Sell My Stock!
Iron Man 3 – This new IM3 trailer certainly boasts a dark side we have yet to see from the franchise. I just hope we still get some of Tony Stark’s snarky dialogue. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
After Earth – Will Smith and his son, Jaden, in a sci-fi flick that’s set 1,000 years after Earth becomes uninhabitable. The trailer is quite impressive and worth watching. Wanna hear the shocking twist?….It was directed by M. Night Shyamalan! : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Oblivion – I prefer this new trailer for Tom Cruise’s futuristic film. The first trailer confused me, but this new one has me intrigued. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
The Great Gatsby – Should be visually stunning, but I’m worried it could be another style over substance piece from Baz. When was the last time DiCaprio was in a bad film? I will see it just because it’s one of my favorite novels. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
The Lone Ranger – Is Johnny Depp’s “Tonto” just a Native American version of “Jack Sparrow”? If so, this could become the next huge franchise for the quirky actor. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Star Trek Into Darkness – Am I the only one who feels weird about Star Trek director JJ Abrams moving on to direct the next Star Wars movie? You can’t sci-fi franchise double dip! This new Trek could be even better than 2009′s flick. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
NOW ON WITH THE MAIN EVENT!
Before there was Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, there had to have been a story behind the magical land of Oz, right? Director Sam Raimi has taken L. Frank Baum’s classic tale and made a loving tribute to the 1939 movie we all know and adore.
Oz The Great And Powerful may be a prequel, but from it’s opening credits and first 20 minutes, you would think you were watching a new version of the original. As an homage to the 1939 Oz film, this new one starts out in black & white (not turning to color until we reach the land of Oz) and the screen doesn’t open up wide until we see something bright.
Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is a small-time circus magician who works at a dusty Kansas carnival in 1909. To say Oscar is a con-man would be an insult to actual successful con-men. Besides his usual trickery, Oscar (Oz is his nickname) is known for breaking the hearts of many ladies and not paying his staff money or compliments.
Just like Dorothy knew her Oz companions from her daily life on the Kansas farm (although they were in different forms on Oz), here Oscar’s real life acquaintances become his allies as well, when he gets whisked away to Oz after his hot-air balloon meets with a twister. His carnival sidekick (Zach Braff) in Kansas becomes his little flying helper monkey in Oz and a crippled little girl (Joey King) who wanted Oscar to heal her with his “magic”, becomes a beautiful tiny China doll who guides him. “Finley the monkey” and “China Girl” steal every scene they’re in and they could also give Scarecrow, Tin Man and the cowardly Lion a run for their money as sidekicks. The two of them are that great!
When Oscar crash lands on the lively Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot. He now has fame (they think he’s a real wizard & want him to be King) and fortune (all the gold, if he kills The Wicked Witch). Decisions become difficult when he meets three witches; the bipolar Theodora (Mila Kunis), the conniving Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and the kind-hearted Glinda (Michelle Williams) who reminds him of his great love from Kansas. The witches are not convinced he’s the great wizard everyone’s been expecting, but all three have a need for his magic tricks. Oscar is reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants (yes, we have some munchkins) and must find out who is a good witch, who is a bad witch and who is a witch so bad that to describe her would be using a word sounding like “witch”.
James Franco is likeable enough as Oscar aka Oz, but he looks half asleep or perpetually stoned. A con artist with a sharp tongue would have been a role better suited for actors like Johnny Depp or Robert Downey Jr. Michelle Williams is the ideal Glinda and has such a pleasant aura around her that you believe she could fly inside a bubble. Rachel Weisz brings a sultry vibe to Evanora, but she is so evil that you wish a house would drop on her. Mila Kunis has a very key role as Theodora, but compared to her witch comrades, she lacks…well…acting magic.
Casting is just a minor issue compared to some major plot holes. Why does Oscar leave the circus so quickly? Isn’t Oz just a dream world? Another disappointment is the ever-changing tone of the film. When it wants to play it up for laughs it does well and when it wants to go dark (those flying monkeys are on steroids!) it provides a jolt, but the two styles seem to be at odds throughout.
Oz The Great And Powerful could have been an embarrassing effort, that disgraced the legend of The Wizard Of Oz. Instead it’s a highly entertaining movie, with just enough nostalgia and wonderment to wow it’s audience, while they take a deep breath of relief knowing that the classic wasn’t tarnished.
I give OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL *** out of ****.