A small-time magician arrives in an enchanted land and is forced to decide if he will be a good man or a great one.
Okay, here’s something you might not know about me: I’m a huge The Wizard of Oz
fan. I’m not just talking about the original movie, either. I’ve read almost all of the L. Frank Baum Oz books, as well as the fan fiction like Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years) and Visitors from Oz: The Wild Adventures of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman. So I had very high expectations for Oz The Great and Powerful.
About the Movie:
Disney’s fantastical adventure “Oz The Great and Powerful,” directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.
This is only my second advance screening – so I still get a little giddy sitting up with all the press in the press section. We even got special collectible 3D glasses:
Minor spoiler alert:
I really enjoyed this movie – but I have to admit that it was difficult not being picky since I know the Oz world so well. The film starts in black and white, just like it’s “parent”, with Oscar Diggs working as a two-bit magician at the Baum Bros. circus in Kansas. We find out, that even though he is what we would call in this century, a “player”, Oscar is in love with Annie, who it is revealed (if you know the back story) will be Dorothy’s mother in the future. (Yes, that Dorothy).
A ruckus ensues when a few of Oscar’s multiple women and their boyfriends find out about each other. Oscar is forced to flee in a hot air balloon while a tornado is brewing nearby. He and the balloon are sucked into the tornado and after being knocked out by a flying piece of debris, Oscar wakes up (in color) in the land of Oz. Sound familiar?
Although I found this movie to be alternately charming and action-packed, I did have a few issues. First, it is highly derivative of the original (note the two paragraphs above, not to mention that as the wizard starts on his journey he gradually collects companions, his being a winged monkey named Finley, and a china doll). And may I just say, I find it interesting that James Franco is now the go-to guy for CGI ape rescues. What’s next for him? A drag turn as Dian Fossey in the remake of Gorillas in the Mist?
The storyline is also a bit formulaic, although I was surprised a couple of times by the plot twists. There are also a couple of Disney-esque points in the movie where Art and I looked at each other and said “theme park ride.” My biggest issue, though, was with the 3D. As I mentioned in my review of Marvel’s The Avengers, I felt that in many parts of the movie, the 3D detracted from the storyline and actually took me “out” of the movie. Personally, I feel that the technology is still too gimmicky.
That said, there is much to like about this movie. The story stays very close to the books and there are no continuity flaws at all between the original movie and this one. The graphics are sheerly stunning in their beauty and even the background computer graphics are not skimped on. There are so many little details in this movie that there were some that didn’t hit me until the next day, in retrospect.
All in all, if you are a fan of Oz, or any of the lead actors, I would highly recommend this movie. I would not recommend it for children under the age of 8 as the winged monkeys are scary, toothy baboons this go-round and some of the 3D action could be very frightening to a small child.
I give Oz the Great and Powerful four magic wands. Fans will love it!!
I was given complimentary entry to an advance screening of this movie in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.