Now I have been a Wizard of Oz fans since I was little and read the Oz books. The world really fascinated me and kept me interested all these years, as well as the 1939 version The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland.
These books and the movie really stand the test of time and give us all a world that we can get lost in. A place of wonderment and the fantastical.
Jump 74 years later and we have Oz The Great and Powerful. This time we learn the background of the man who would go to the land of Oz and become the great and powerful wizard that we all know. His road is not one of kindness and caring but one of greed and self indulgence. The man behind the curtain isn’t a nice man at all but one who only cares about one person in the world…himself.
Throughout this journey though he learns things about himself and the trip to Oz becomes a self discovery of sorts of Oscar as he is bestowed with the task of killing the Wicked Witch of the West and restoring faith and cheer to the merry ol’ land of Oz.
Is this the Oz movie we have been waiting for? Is this movie great and powerful? Well I thought it was a good start to refresh the franchise and Disney definitely is taking it in the right direction but I feel that it fell short of being a great Oz movie.
Such as prequels go it’s a starting point and for the most part, things work well enough through out the story. Even though it runs just over 2 hours I actually felt the movie may have done better if it was actually a little longer and expanded on some of the backgrounds of the characters. Instead we are thrown into their lives knowing very little about them and not getting enough time with them to know them as we should.
Directed by Sam Raimi, who gave us the ever popular Evil Dead series and the Spiderman trilogy, as well as others, takes us back to the world of Oz and really tries to engross us in the lives of the people from this far off land. It is striking and everything looks absolutely stunning, especially the 3D, Raimi really used 3D well and it really shows in some scenes. I feel though where he stumbles is slowing things down a bit. The pacing I felt was a rushed, especially at the beginning. It’s great that he did that section in B&W and in 4:3 ratio like the original but rushed it to get to Oz quicker. Once in Oz we were zipped along from location to location with hardly a minute to catch our breath. If Sam does the already greenlit sequel, which looks like he may not, I hope he takes time to let things unfold.
The score by Danny Elfman was well thought out and gave a whisper of the themes of yesteryear, but I wished they used less score during the opening moments. I think that would have given more of a feel of a classic B&W movie than with the score always being booming in the back.
The acting was good, not great, a little over the top but got the job done. James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, the man who will become Oz, and plays him with an over the top at times, charm that has evil undertones. You know by the way he carries himself that he’s only there for one person and no one else. Franco does look like he was having fun in the role and he grows on you throughout the movie.
Mila Kunis plays Theodora, a witch who isn’t on anyone’s side. She just wants peace in Oz and everyone to live and be happy. Her sister Evanora, played by the wonderful Rachel Weisz is a little more darker than Theodora and has a hard time believing that this man who showed up is the great wizard that has been prophesied about. Michelle Williams takes on the role of Glinda the good witch and she’s the one that starts Oscar on the road of self discovery and makes him believe that even though he isn’t a wizard that with some help can over take the Wicked Witch and bring peace to Oz once more.
Two characters to take note of. Finley, the flying monkey in the bellhop outfit and the china doll character really help carry the movie and will leave a lasting impression on you. I felt that they were really well fleshed out and the most developed.
The visual effects were top notch and everything felt real and fantastical when you entered Oz. They really did a great job making you believe you were actually in this magical place and nothing really looked out of place. The 3D as I stated earlier was well used giving great depth to scenes and this was one of the first 3D movies I have seen that when something flew at your out of the screen it felt as if you needed to move out of the way. I’m not one for 3D movies but the 3D in Oz worked extremely well.
Overall this movie I think is worth at least matinee prices. If you are planning to pay full price then I would go for the regular version of the film than the 3D one. The matinee pricing will help bring down the bill of the 3D movie. It’s definitely a movie that should be experienced on the big screen for the first showing of it. It really is a marvel to see on the big screen. At that note that I feel the movie didn’t quite live up to the hype and expectation, but then again what prequels really do. The main reason we do go to the movies though is to be entertained and this movie does that part well and makes for a good day out.
I give Oz the Great and Powerful 3.8 out of 5. It could have gotten a 4 if the pacing was slowed down a bit and the makers gave the movie time to breathe. Definitely a movie I will be picking up once it’s out on DVD/Bluray. So if you haven’t gone out to see it yet, definitely see it in the big screen first at matinee prices. Till next time my friends.