Oz the Great and Powerful

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1905 Kansas, Oscar Diggs (James Franco) works as a barnstormer and a small-time magician in a traveling circus. As a storm approaches the circus, the circus strongman (Tim Holmes) learns Oscar has flirted with his wife and goes to attack him. Oscar escapes in a hot air balloon, but is sucked into a tornado that brings him to the Land of Oz. There the witch Theodora (Mila Kunis) finds him and believes him to be a wizard prophesied to overthrow the Wicked Witch who killed the king of Oz. En route to the Emerald City, Theodora falls in love with Oscar. They also encounter the flying monkey Finley (Zach Braff), who pledges a life debt to Oscar when the latter saves him from a lion.

On reaching the Emerald City, Oscar meets Evanora (Rachel Weisz), Theodora’s sister, who is skeptical of Oscar being the foretold wizard. Evanora tells Oscar that the Wicked Witch resides in the Dark Forest and can be killed by destroying her wand, the source of her power. Oscar and Finley are joined en route to the forest by China Girl (Joey King), a young, living china doll whose home and family were destroyed by the Wicked Witch. The trio reaches the forest and discovers the “Wicked Witch” to be Glinda the Good Witch (Michelle Williams), who tells them Evanora is the true Wicked Witch. Evanora sees this with her crystal ball and manipulates Theodora against Oscar by showing him together with Glinda, saying he is trying to court all three witches. She offers the heartbroken Theodora a magic apple she promises will remove her heartache, which Theodora eats, transforming her into a heartless, green-skinned Wicked Witch.

Glinda brings Oscar’s group to her domain of Oz to escape Evanora’s army of Winkies and flying baboons. She confides with Oscar that she knows he is not truly a wizard, but believes he can still help them stop Evanora, and provides him an “army” of Quadlings, tinkers, and Munchkins to do it. Theodora enters Glinda’s domain and angrily reveals her new, hideous appearance to Oscar before threatening to kill him and his allies with the Emerald City’s well-prepared army. Oscar despairs that his army cannot defeat the Wicked Witches, but after telling China Girl about his exploits, he realizes they can fight using prestidigitation.

Glinda and her subjects use an automated army of scarecrows blanketed by thick fog to trick the Wicked Witches into sending their flying baboons through a poppy field that puts the baboons to sleep. However, two baboons manage to capture Glinda, who is brought to the city square to be executed. Meanwhile, Oscar infiltrates the Emerald City with his allies, only to seemingly abandon them in a hot air balloon loaded with the king’s gold, which Theodora destroys with a fireball. Oscar then secretly reveals himself to his friends, having faked his death. Oscar uses a hidden smoke machine and image projector to present a giant, holographic image of his face as his “true” form, and a fireworks display to attack and intimidate the Wicked Witches. Evanora fearfully hides in her castle while Theodora flies from the city on her broom, unable to hurt the “invincible” wizard. China Girl frees Glinda, who defeats and banishes Evanora, destroying the Wicked Witch’s necklace that hides her true, crone-like appearance before she is carried off by flying baboons.

The film concludes with Oscar, now king of Oz, using his projector to sustain the belief that he is still a powerful wizard and keep the citizens of Oz united against the Wicked Witches. He also presents gifts to his friends: Master Tinker (Bill Cobbs), who helped build his machines, receives a camping-tool jackknife; Knuck (Tony Cox), the grumpy city herald and an ally of Glinda, receives a mask with a smiley face; the long-suffering Finley receives Oscar’s friendship; and China Girl accepts her friends as her new family. Finally, Oscar takes Glinda behind the curtain of his projector and kisses her.

REVIEW:

Recently, there has been a string of films that have taken classic tales and reimagined them as dark and modern, that is not to forget those God-awful remakes Hollywood keeps shoving down our throats. Oz the Great and Powerful does not fall into that trap, but instead goes the prequel route, which wasn’t a bad choice considering how much of a sure backlash and uproar there would be had they even mentioned remaking that immortal classic, The Wizard of Oz.

What is this about?

In this prequel to The Wizard of Oz, circus magician Oscar Diggs is magically transported to the Land of Oz, where he deals with three witches and uses his illusionist skills and resourcefulness to become the wizard the residents have been expecting.

What did I like?

Know your history. For those of us purists out there, fret not, there are plenty of homages to the original. Take for instance the way this film is shot. It starts in black and white (yes, i know the original was more of a sepia) then, when we are in Oz, it goes into full color. A character has the last name of Gale, just like Dorothy and she is wearing a gingham dress. We see a flying monkey, the scarecrow’s face, a lion that runs away, etc. Basically, everything they could fit in there that wasn’t ties up in legal mumbo jumbo, they found a way to stick it in. Also, it should be noted, that many of the cha

Out-Burton Burton. In my review of Frankenweenie, I mentioned how Tim Burton went back to what made him such a great filmmaker in the first place. Well, apparently, Sam Raimi took notes from him, as well, because this is just as good, if not better than what we expect from Burton. The brilliant, vibrant colors pop on the screen as the imaginative characters take center stage.

China girl. All the reviews of this film I’ve been reading have been praising the little china girl. I’m going to join that group. Not only is she a great, emotional, relatable character, but her design is fascinating to behold. The back story they gave her is sure to touch even the most hardened of hearts.

3D. For some reason, the theater where I went to see this today didn’t offer a non-3D option for seeing this. Normally, I’d be all up in arms about the lack of the option, as I am no fan of 3D. To me, it is just a gimmick for studios and theaters to charge even more than they already do just for a pair of rental sunglasses (which is all those things are, really). Having said that, I do believe this is the first 3D film that I’ve seen since the resurgence of the technique that really takes advantage and does it right. It isn’t too much, nor is it distracting. As a matter of fact, there were a couple of times when I actually dodged. That, my friends, is how you do 3D!

What didn’t I like?

Romance. No, I don’t have any issue with the wizard’s romance with the witch sisters, as that leads to some animosity and makes for good reasons for villainy. However, it is his relationship with Glinda that I call into question. Never is it implies anywhere that the two of them had any kind of love connection, but somehow the filmmakers decided it needed to be there…at the very end of the film.

Witches. While these three actresses, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams are very talented in their own right, they didn’t really work as witches for me. First, Kunis just seemed more like a fish out of water than when she’s voicing Meg on Family Guy and let’s not even mention that gaudy hat. Weisz felt like she was holding back. It was as if she wanted to just be your stereotypical, insanely evil witch, but they wouldn’t let her. Personally, she seemed like she was trying to be Azkadelia from Tin Man (another Wizard of Oz film). Finally, there is Michelle Williams, who came off as rather bland. Also, I picture Glenda being this being or pure innocence and I didn’t quite get that from Williams, perhaps that chick that plays Snow White on Once Upon a Time…Gennifer Goodwin, would have been a better choice.

Wicked. The actress who ends up turning into the Wicked Witch we all know just doesn’t cut it. Part of it has to do with the way that they had her made up, the other part was her acting. It just didn’t become of a Wicked Witch that would turn eventually become the evil being we come to know. Also, where is Elphaba and Nessarose? Maybe there were some legal issues with Wicked, too, since they just (finally) greenlit it to become a film, but Theodora and Evanora. Those names sound like they were just randomly pulled out of thin air.

Oz the Great and Powerful is probably the best new film I’ve seen this year. As a matter of fact, I think it is the only new film I’ve seen this year. With that said, while watching this, I felt underwhelmed, much in the same way I did after watching Alice in Wonderland. That isn’t to say this is a bad film, it just may have been overhyped. I can’t help but think that this was made not as a way to tell us the story of the wizard, but to soften audiences up for a forthcoming remake of The Wizard of Oz down the line. They did green light a sequel Monday, after all. That being said, I did like it and give it a high recommendation, especially for those that are looking for something to take the kids to go see.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

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6 Responses to “Oz the Great and Powerful”

  1. […] like a bad acid trip gone horribly wrong. My opinion has not changed, but after recently seeing Oz: The Great and Powerful, I was inspired to watch it again. Would I suggest this to anyone? That is a hard one, but I have […]

  2. Mystery Man Says:

    Reblogged this on Mr Movie Fiend's Movie Blog.

  3. […] Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters 9. Oz the Great and Powerful 8. Gangster Squad 7. Man of Steel 6. Olympus Has Fallen 5. G.I. Joe: […]

  4. […] about it. Why is it that we can’t get possibly a showdown between the two? Even in Oz: The Great and Powerful they didn’t get it on. Can we please get a witch battle in […]

  5. […] Beauty story, but rather more of a story of Maleficent leading up to part of that tale, much like Oz: The Great and Powerful. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that and many of the key story points were changed, much t my […]

  6. […] surrounded a wall of China (get it…Great Wall of China HA!) Second, if you will recall from Oz: The Great and Powerful, there was a porcelain girl who touched everyone’s hearts when they saw her on-screen. I […]

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