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“Oz The Great and Powerful” – Review (SO-SO POSITIVE)

March 8, 2013

Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 6.52.57 PMWe’re off to see the Wizard….and how he became the ruler of Oz. Sam Raimi, the mastermind behind the “Evil Dead” & “Spider-Man” trilogy (although he got 2/3’s right with Spidey) returns after his four year hiatus, last film was his return to horror, “Drag Me to Hell”. Raimi makes his wave into the house of Disney, directing this visually stunning prequel to the 1939 classic, without infringing on the copyrights owned by Warner Brothers. And for what it is, the movie does succeed on a certain level of entertainment, but lacks in some place.

Oscar ‘Oz’ Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz. At first he thinks he’s hit the jackpot-fame and fortune are his for the taking. That all changes, however, when 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.

It’s nice to return to the land of Oz for a change. The last real Oz film was Disney’s extremely dark and highly underrated film, “Return to Oz”. Raimi does a fine job capturing some of those old charms and clever easter eggs that ring back to the original ’39 film. However, he takes it into account that he’s focusing more on the L. Frank Baum writings than the MGM classic. Baum even felt that the musical we all know and love did NOT do his work justice, he didn’t even want it to be a musical. That being said, the dark side of Oz is embraced here big time, which can be an issue I feel, for the kids mostly. This movie is DAMN scary at times, lots of pop out scenes (I jumped a few times), scary imagery that certainly rings back to Raimi’s “Evil Dead”-style. This is not your grandmothers Oz.

Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 6.54.10 PMThe visual effects are brilliant, the movie embraces that nickelodeon b/w 4:3 syle, then expands to 2.35:1 aspect ratio BRIGHT COLORS. The 3D is probably the BEST I’ve seen in quite a while, and the IMAX experience is something that is a must. I thought the production design was impeccably beautiful and doesn’t make a dire need to make a carbon copy of the same Oz from the original film. While the Oz in “Return…” was twisted & ugly, and the ’39 film was classy and stage-like, this film is grand, epic, and wondrous.

My biggest guff though with the film is not with the tonal shift the movie endures, but the casting of James Franco. I cannot take him seriously, his best performance to date will always be Saul Goodman, ’cause everything else he does he looks stoned. He hams it up here to the point where it seems phony/fake. Robert Downey Jr. was originally cast in the role of the Wizard, but dropped out due to schedule conflicts, I can already imagine him doing the role 10x better than Franco ever could. Everyone else does a fine job, Michelle Williams & Rache Weisz are terrific in the roles. Mila Kunis is ok…at first, then when she becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, she was…WICKED!

Overall, it’s not my favorite film by Sam Raimi, but it’s entertaining to watch with the family, just beware of the scary moments, because there’s a lot of them. What do you expect from the creator of “Evil Dead”? If you’re still iffy about seeing the movie, see it just for the Bruce Campbell cameo alone, it’s priceless.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2013 5:59 pm

    Good review. Innocuous and pleasing to the eye, but sparse in terms of back-story particularly the witches. It’s not terrible, but it’s just okay.

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