Oz the Great and Powerful – Review
March 16, 2013 2 Comments
Film Review by FilmFellaJames – 5/10
Sam Raimi is at it again, offering up another soulless visual spectacle, (Spider-Man 3 anyone?) in this the prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Oz The Great and Powerful stars James Franco as the magician trickster con man, Oscar “Oz” Diggs. He’s on the run because he’s been sniffing around the angry strong man’s sexy assistant and during the process gets whirled away into a twister and teleported into the magical realm of Oz. When he arrives, he finds a land in distress as an evil wicked witch named Evanora, Rachel Weisz, has taken the freedom from the people and is ruling the kingdom after poisoning the former King. That bitch then goes and poisons Meg from Family Guy, turning her into the iconic Wicked Witch of the West with green bosoms. Oz quickly realises that he is in the shit because he ain’t no wizard at all, he’s a douche bag con man with delusions of grandeur. So, he teams up with a china doll, Joey King, a flying monkey, Zach Braff and later Glinda, the good witch, Michelle Williams, determined to get his grubby hands on the kingdoms treasure, should he vanquish the evil witch and lead the people to glorious revolution of course.
The movie opens in old school fashion, similar to the way that the 1939 Victor Fleming and Co production of the Wizard of Oz opens. It’s black and white sepia style in 4:3 ratio. Nice little homage to those fellas then. We are introduced to Mr Oz, blagging his way through his stage performance reminiscent of Steve Martin in Leap of Faith. He is challenged to perform real wizardry by a little girl, wheel-chair bound and as a result of his failure to heal her with his powers is booed off the stage. He makes a quick escape but then has to escape from the strong man, hell bent on smashing him to bits, probably because Oz has been doing a little smashing of his own with the strong man’s’ leading lady. He hops into a hot air balloon and then gets dragged into a twister, Dorothy style. This part of the film was wonderful in its realisation, visual effects masters showing their craft, with Raimi and sound master Elfman filling up the drama with their obvious skill.
Oz then crash lands in furious fashion upon the realm of Oz and the colour busts in like the vomit of a child at a fairground that’s munched down too much candy before a go on the merry go round. The movie literally explodes in colour and imagination and for a short while I am giddy with delight. We see some nasty little bitey fairies and are then introduced to Theodora, in smoking hot leather pants. She quickly falls for the charms of the womanising Oz and takes him to the Emerald City where he meets her sister Evanora. Weisz and Kunis do a good job as panto villains and Franco owns his role as the fibbing con man, but ultimately the movie quickly loses momentum as the journey to the dark forest commences.
On the way he ventures to creepy China Town, completely smashed up by the flying baboons and happens upon a little china doll with broken legs. He fixes her with some glue, like they didn’t have glue in Oz, and claims it’s magic in a bottle. Pity there wasn’t any magic in this movie though. Also, there wasn’t any glue on the brush he uses to fix her legs, very obvious. Stupid corner cutting Raimi. Then you get to see a lot of obvious green screen acting and some shonky long distance shots of fake horses and stuff. Bored.
Ironically, the film is just like its main character, Oz. All style no substance. I would have liked to have spent more time writing this review as I was looking forward to the film being a fan of the 1939 Wizard of Oz, but I just cant be assed, a sentiment that the script writers must have had when they sat down to pad out the movie in between lavish set pieces. Don’t get me wrong, its an edgy-ish kids movie, but it makes no attempt to bring in the audience that came to the movie expecting it to be similar to what the 1939 film was like. This film kinda amplifies the way that movies in this genre are heading. It’s all visual, nothing much to think about, no characters to engage with, just titular entertainment for the masses. This saddens me, because it cheapens the majesty of the material that came before it.
What can be said of this version of Oz? Well, it’s a spectacle alright, plenty of visuals. In fact $300 odd million worth of spectacle. The landscape is immense with colour and shininess, but then, much like the character of Oz, the lustre quickly fades because what you are left with is a large amount of filler dialogue and story telling narration as the players in this piece unravel the plot by telling you about it all the way through. It looked great but it came across a bit awkwardly, the script failing to deliver any real umpf or character development. What you are then left with is a fantastical multi-dimensional visual feast with one dimensional acting and delivery. Which is sad.
Ultimately this film is a Disney cliché and I have to admit, I went in expecting it to be, after all, who puts the guy from Pineapple Express in a lead role like this? Raimi. That’s who. Who throws money at big screen productions like it’s going out of fashion? Raimi, that’s who. So why am I disappointed? I’m disappointed because the same people who made the trailer for Pans Labyrinth, must have made the trailer for this. It looked so awesome in the trailer, but as soon as the movie started it felt like a panto set on the ultimate stage of cgi. It makes me wonder what Bryan Singer has done with Jack the Giant Slayer. Hope that shit is better. More on that film later on this month.
P.S. What is Bruce Campbell up to? He’s a doorman in everything these days.