Oz The Great And Powerful wooed fans for nearly a year before release with a magical trailer and a pretty epic panel last year at Comic Con. With Sam Raimi in the driver’s seat, I expected something magical and deliciously dark. However, what I ended up seeing was neither of those things.
With the on-going trend of remakes and reboots of classic fairy tales in Hollywood, the timing seems quite appropriate. However, Oz The Great And Powerful doesn’t retell a classic tale – instead it serves as a prequel to one of Hollywood’s most beloved films. How did the Wizard become the Wizard? That is exactly the story that this movie tells.
With a cool idea for a plot, a great director, and talented cast – where did everything go wrong? The script. My main issue with the film was that all of the climatic moments of the film, were not climatic at all. The ultimate confrontation is not only predictable, but the characters involved are also completely lacking any passion.
Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is a magician, but not a real one. With many tricks up his sleeve and illusions (trying not make an Arrested Development joke here) in his bag, Oscar travels with a small circus – charming lovely ladies in every city. The commitment-opposed magician finds himself swept up by a violent tornado which lands him in the enchanting land of Oz. The inhabitants here have all been waiting a long time for a wizard to arrive to defeat the wicked witch.
Oscar almost immediately encounters Theodora (Mila Kunis), who takes him to met her sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz). They tell Oscar that he has to kill Glinda (Michelle Williams) in order to become king and claim all the riches that the land has to offer – which is a boat load of gold. Oscar finds himself drawn into the conflict, and he soon realizes that things aren’t exactly as they seem… and that maybe he’s better man than he ever was back in Kansas.
Seeing the film in 3D is a must if you’re going to go see it. While the effects are standard and gimmicky, it does add to the overall beauty of the film, which as a whole is quite visually stunning. James Franco doesn’t bring anything truly magical to his role as the Wizard. While it’s not hard to buy him as a wannabe magician that’s a little girl crazy, there just wasn’t enough there between the script and his performance to really create an emotional attachment between Oscar and the audience.
However, the rest of the cast works perfectly. Michelle Williams does a whimsical job as Glinda, and she manages to do so without being corny or sappy yet with the perfect amount of doe-eyed innocence. Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz are both seductive without trying. Kunis especially shows a great emotional range with a transition from gullible and lovestruck to vindictive and malicious.
The best character in the film? The China Girl. Not only are the effects with her quite stunning and impressive, she instantly has the heart of every audience member in her hand from the moment you meet her. If only the rest of the characters could have had such an opportunity with the script, and there had been more a climax – we would have had a much better film on our hands.
Overall, when it comes to Wizard of Oz prequels, it’s hard if not impossible to top Wicked (which I actually enjoy far more than Wizard of Oz). While Oz The Great And Powerful tells a different tale, it’s not one that will have you nearly as emotionally invested as Wicked. That being said, if you’re a fan of the classic, it’s definitely a must see.
Review By: Emma Loggins