Oz the Great and Powerful-More like Oz the Good and Conning

Oz the Great and Powerful  is a visual splendor of oohs and aahs but lacks in telling a congruent story to our beloved Wizard of Oz which has aged gracefully in our piercing eyes. Oz is packed with cleverness and wonder but one must consider how poor some of the scripting was, which seemed to have been phoned in by some of the cast.


Personally, I could not had been more excited to see what Disney had in store for our beginning in Oz. I was so curious to see who the Wicked Witch of the West would be and why she would turn evil and green. In the end I was disappointed that it was over such an immature misunderstanding that changed her. I was expecting much more, because this is nearly one of our classic monsters like Dracula and the Mummy. The Wicked Witch of the West was one of the first female antagonists we had in the world of film and she was one mean bitch! I was really hoping that Oz would go into more detail and reveal the story about one of the most admirable adversaries in film history. The Wicked Witch of the West was the primer to all other witches! Without her, where would our infatuation with witches be?

Wicked Witch of the West in Oz

Past that minor flaw the movie was still a great amount of fun and although I saw it in 2D it was still a magical, wondrous experience. The landscape is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. The new take on the now much scarier Tornado scene is remarkable. Not to mention the opening credits were by far the most genuine and clever I have seen in years, I was awfully disappointed by the the end credits though after such a remarkable opening.

Speaking of the opening, the first five minutes are black and white and in a smaller frame, just like The Wizard of Oz. The transitional scene into Oz becomes colorized as Oscar (James Franco) flies into Oz in his hot air balloon. This scene is even more extraordinary than the first time we saw Oz and it can’t help but take your breath away.

The cinematography is outstanding in Oz and I am sure it would have been worth the price of the 3D glasses if you so choose to view the film that way. The only reason I did not is because my mother did not want to sit through a 3D film.

The movie does pay homage to the original in many of the scenes, but unfortunately the munchkins do not get to sing their introduction song in its entirety. A small let down, but a great scene is delivered when Oscar scares off a lion with his basic parlor magic.

If you were not aware, Oscar  was part of a traveling circus as The Great and Powerful Oz. He is a parlor magician that probably has had his way with a few too many small town girls. He has an unappreciated assistant Frank who is played by the gem Zach Braff. When Oscar makes it into Oz he saves a flying monkey in a bellhop suit that was about to be eaten by the (cowardly) lion. Braff then voices the monkey, Finley, who is in servitude to a lifetime debt to Oscar. Finley only pledges his life to Oscar because his traveling companion Theadora (Mila Kunis) claims he is the Great Wizard who will save the land of Oz from the wicked witch.

The film is peppered with great irony and puns, which make you laugh aloud during the movie. The running theme itself is ironic, Oscar is this terrible character who has always wanted something great happen during his life. But he is far to concerned with himself to ever realize Oz is that opportunity. The iconic phrase “some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them” seems to be the final running theme in Oz.

Oscar was born average with high dreams, and he is a man whose greatness is thrust upon him. Which is probably why you might hate his character all the way up until the epic battle scene.

Then, after the showy final showdown, you get one last battle. By far the best scene in the movie was when Glinda the Good Witch of the South (Michelle Williams) fights Evanora (Rachel Weiz). Harsh words are exchanged, and watching the sparks fly between the two witches is amazing. The perfect climax to the Great and Powerful Oz. 

If you are a fan of the land of Oz, then the two hour film will be fun and exciting for your experience.  Don’t go into the theater thinking that the acting will be great or the explanations will be wonderful because then you will be let down. Lower the bar by just a notch, and then you will find the price of admission worth it. If you seem cynical about this new Oz, then just wait to rent it. You will hate every minute of this colorful, creative, yet lack luster ride.

8 comments on “Oz the Great and Powerful-More like Oz the Good and Conning

  1. First of all, Jacki, I love how your personality translates into your writing!

    While I haven’t seen Oz (nor do I plan to) I gather that it isn’t quite the prequel people were hoping for. I also think a story like this presents a unique challenge because it has to appeal to both children and adult movie-goers.

    I think an interesting adaptation would have been a character-driven story. What experiences shaped Oscar into the man he is when he appears in Oz? (This seems to be examined to a certain extent in the current form of the movie.) What incites the wicked witches, well, wickedness? What are the character’s motivations and how do they use on another to fulfill their (more than likely) selfish desires?

    As an aside, I think it’s disappointing that Robert Downey Jr. wasn’t able to commit to the role of Oscar. He would have made a more believable wizard.

    • I agree, Downey would had been a great Oz, and Franco was decent, but whenever he does something that isn’t comedy he is a hard actor to swallow. I think a better background story for the witches is what most people wanted and what I especially wanted. I think that there was enough background on Oscar for the audience to realize how selfish of a man he was. Honestly I was rooting for the Theadora (Mila Kunis) the majority of the movie, but even her reaction to Oscar/Oz was disappointing in the end.

  2. Though I still enjoyed it in the end and it’s not terrible, it just has too many frustrating aspects which all stem from a messy script. That’s okay though, especially since I had a good time at the end of the day. Great review.

    • Thanks! I feel as though we have a similar view on the movie. Did you feel as though Mila and Rachel hardly delivered? Some of their lines and scenes were awfully disappointing.

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  4. Jacki, I love this review because you covered various aspects related to the film. You have no problem sharing your opinions. both good and bad, which is refreshing so I know this is a genuine review. I am a fan of the Wizard of Oz and was excited to see trailers for Oz the Great and Powerful. The special effects alone caught my attention. I am interested to see the film to get the back story on Oscar and all the other characters. Now that I’m older I appreciate the overarching themes that run throughout movies. Not all movies have a great theme but it’s nice to leave with something to think about. Cool review!

    • Thank you! I always try to cover a few portions of the film that is worth knowing about. If you are interested in Oscar’s back story than you will probably enjoy the story line. I was looking forward to learning about the Wicked Witch of the West and and had been let down at the end of the film.

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