Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

March 12, 2013 By Mike B
Movie Review

Oz the Great and Powerful Film Review

What Worked?

It’s been quite a long time since we’ve set foot on that yellow brick road, but Sam Raimi brings us back to the land of Oz for the first time in over seven decades, and it’s still as magical a place as ever. Oz the Great and Powerful is an adaptation of the L. Frank Baum Oz introductory novel, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and is a prequel to the 1939 classic. In the role of Oz is the very capable James Franco, and he’s joined by a wonderful supporting cast consisting of Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams, playing the three witches.

Sam Raimi was a bit of an odd choice to place in the director’s chair for a family-friendly, magical film such as this one, but he does hold his own, and adds his trademark comic-book style panache to Oz. The camera cuts and moves at wild angles, in a way only Raimi can do so well, adding a frantic feel to the adventure. The CGI is used in a playful way with vibrant colors, updating Emerald city in glorious fashion. The flying monkeys and the birth of the Wicked Witch allow Raimi to pull out some tricks from his Horror bag as well. Running a little over 2 hours, this adventure is nostalgic, funny and quite satisfying.

James Franco plays Oscar Diggs aka Oz, a carnival magician and charming con-man that’s taken to the land of Oz via a twister. Many said that Franco was miscast for the role of Oz, but he surprisingly does well with the role, as he is entertainingly charming. He does what he can with the role, as he displays what the trio of the original was missing throughout his journey: a heart, a brain, and some courage to defeat the wicked witch.

The three witches in their respective roles happen to be the most interesting characters in the film. Rachel Weisz, playing Evanora, is a sassy, devilish witch that shines in her scenes, and she’s complimented well by Michelle Williams playing Glinda, the contagiously optimistic good witch. Mila Kunis has a pivotal role as Theodora, the innocent witch that eventually turns into the Wicked Witch of the West, and she holds her own among the three witches, despite being the weakest link. There are many great supporting characters as well, with the most entertaining being the bell-hop monkey named Finley, voiced by Zach Braff.

We certainly may not have wanted this film, as there are many risks to ruining the classic Wizard of Oz, but it’s a film that takes us back to the comfort of  “once upon a time.” Oz the Great and Powerful is a simple reminder, in beautiful fashion, that it truly is better to be a good man than a great one; while a great man can amaze the people, a good man will inspire them.

Potential Drawbacks

The relationships between Theodora and Oz seemed to be a little too rushed, as there was no real chemistry between the two. It may be hard to believe that Theodora falls for Oz so hard in what seems to be a day or so that she wants undying revenge against him when she sees Oz with Glinda. Is this the first interaction Theodora has had with the opposite sex?

In addition, it seems that Theodora could’ve been a more well-rounded character. She’s supposed to be innocent in the beginning, but Kunis isn’t really given much to work with. I know this isn’t the origin story for the Wicked Witch of the West, but she could’ve been developed better. Kunis also gave a flat performance compared to her co-stars.

Some may believe the CGI might be overkill in some parts, and that it may be too cartoonish as well. There are still those out there that believe Franco was miscast. There are some scenes where it’s evident, but for the most part he gives a solid effort.

Film Recommendations

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Spider-Man (2002)

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