Friday, March 22, 2013

Movie Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

First this movie is not for kids! There is enough nightmare fuel in this movie to burn down the emerald city!
This is in no way a bad thing though, and as a sort of prequel this movie excels in every aspect where the Star Wars prequels tripped up.
I really enjoyed this new trip to Oz, the original is a timeless classic and this new trip to Oz respects the original material and simply builds on The Wizard of Oz's foundation. as much as I think Johnny Depp would've made a fantastic Oz, James Franco did a phenominal job in the roll. Franco made Oswald "Oz" Diggs a flawed narcissistic charlatan who uses his charisma, good looks and illusions fool his audience as well as the ladies. But the act is simply a facade to hide his true self, a man with a good heart that dreams of living a life of meaning.
We get a glympse of the real Oswald when Annie (Michelle Williams) pays Oscar a visit after one of his shows, she tells him that she is engaged to John Gale...this scene is fascinating as it shows that Oz dreams of being a "great man" like Einstien (brains), He didn't have the courage to tell Annie how he felt about her, and thus has locked his heart away so he cannot be hurt....there's a tremendous amount of regret in Oz that this scene displays masterfully.
The moment comes crashing down around him when his reality catches up to him and he must bid Annie a final fair well and run away, or in this case fly away.
The scene when Oz arrives in....Oz is just as magnificent as when we first arrived in 1939 with a house!
It's here we meet Theodora (Mila Kunis) a witch who believes Oz to be the wizard prophesied to defeat the Wicked Witch and become King of Oz. Hearing this Oz reverts to his conniving ways and feeds into Theodora's naivety as they head to the emerald city. Along the way Oz uses his "powerful magic" to rescue Finley, a flying monkey, from a Lion.
There are a healthy amount of easter eggs throughout the movie to form a continuity with the 1939 film....the lion being scared off by a fire cracker is one such example.
Once back in Oz we meet Theodora's older sister, Evanora (Rachel Weisz) ...also a witch, who is acting guardian of the Emerald City since the Kings demise, not as naive as Theodora, Evanora see's thru Oz's lies and plays on his greed.
Soon after Oz sets off with Finley on his quest to claim the throne we are treated to a wonderful scene where Oz meets a little china girl...not Ni Ho Kai Lan China but the Porcelin type, this scene was fantastic because it hearkens back to an earlier scene in the movie that reiterates my belief that Oswalds regrets torment his conscience. Very good scene!
If there's one thing to be learned from The Wizard of Oz is that nothing is what it seems and we soon learn this when we meet Glinda (Michelle Williams), another witch, who happens to look incredibly similar to Annie.....coincidence?   I think not!
Now that all the players are revealed the events can unfold, Will Oswald become a great man? Who is the Wicked Witch?
Oz the Great and Powerful is a great movie with a powerful performances (yes I did that) from A list actors and actresses James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. The special effects are gorgeous and compliment the story, I enjoyed Finley and I never found his comic relief cringe inducing or face palmable....LFL/ILM please take notes!
Disney/ Sam Raimi did a great job with this prequel to an American classic, it's definately worth the price of admission, take the kids at your own risk...

B+