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?
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.