Oz: The Great and Powerful
James Franco, Mila Kunis
March 8, 2013
2 hours 11 minutes
To be perfectly honest, I'm not a big fan of the 1939 classic 'The Wizard of Oz.' It's not that I hate it, it's just that I don't get why it's called a kid classic other than the fact that it was one of the first films in color and it's from the late 30s. I respect it as a movie, but overall I just don't really care for it. For some reason though, I was excited for 'Oz: The Great and Powerful.' I've loved all of the Spider-Man movies that Sam Raimi directed, (aside from '3') and the film had a really solid cast consisting of people like James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Michelle Williams. As somebody who really enjoyed Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland,' which this film has been compared to based on the marketing campaign, I was actually looking forward to this film. Sure enough, 'Oz' didn't disappoint. It is a whimsical, enchanting, fun, and sometimes scary movie that stands on its own and shouldn't be compared to its 1939 counterpart. Aside from the setting and characters, the two films are nothing alike.
The year is 1905, and Oscar Diggs, aka "Oz," is back in Kansas to perform his magic act in a traveling circus. Oz is not an honest man whatsoever. In fact, he's even a bit of a con man. So when he just escapes a couple of angry citizens of Kansas after they were ripped off, Oz gets into an even bigger predicament than he imagined. Just as Oz escapes the angry civilians, he is sucked into a tornado that teleports him to the magical world of Oz. There is a prophecy in this magical land that a man with the same name as the land would take the throne and destroy the Wicked Witch. Unfortunately, some things aren't quite what they seem between the three supposedly good witches of the land.
James Franco never fails to deliver a good performance and his role as Oz continues that streak. Franco's Oz throughout the film is a selfish conman, which was an interesting way to see this character. He was a womanizer while traveling from town to town and swindles people with the help of a cheap music box. When he's transported to the magical land, he doesn't change much until he meets Michelle Williams’s character, and even then he's still a conman. He's a despicable character who is somewhat likable as the final 30 minutes roll on by. Aside from Franco, my other favorite performance was Michelle Williams as Glinda. I really dug how the character was used to impact the overall outcome of Oz, and I liked her chemistry with Franco as well. The other cast members, particularly the stunning Mila Kunis, all lacked and were kind of mediocre in a way. The acting was overall fine, but nothing was groundbreaking and some were a little over the top.
Sam Raimi had a great sense of direction with this movie, having the ability to create this world that is so different yet so familiar at the same time. Due to copyright reasons, Disney wasn't allowed to directly replicate things from the original 1939 movie. The fact that they were able to create this world which felt familiar yet entirely new at the same time is remarkable. The visuals and story too are also quite great. The team who worked behind the scenes on this movie should be given a good old pat on that back for making this world look and feel fresh and new. Sure it's a CGI fest, but the visuals, especially in 3D, look quite stunning.
'Oz: The Great and Powerful' is a movie that people will either really dig or find no enjoyment in it whatsoever. I was one of those who really enjoyed it. Sure the film was a little long and some of the actors went a little over the top, but this movie overall brings the world of 'Oz' to a new generation of kids. The script manages to tie things in from 'The Wizard of Oz' into this film and makes them work to an extent. Sure we don't get any hint of the existence of Dorothy or even the red ruby slippers, but they weren't even needed in the first place when the story is about The Wizard. Fair warning though, this film is a bit frightening, so children under 7 should probably skip this one. However if they could manage 'Alice in Wonderland,' then this should be fun. Overall, 'Oz' is a whimsical and fun movie filled with stunning visuals, solid acting, a great story, and a great tie in to the original 1939 classic without fully replicating it. This is one trip down the yellow brick road that I don't regret taking one bit.
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