“ Actors: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis, Bruce Campbell / Director: Sam Raimi / Writers: David Lindsay-Abaire, L. Frank Baum, Mitchell Kapner / Producers: Debbi Bossi, Grant Curtis, Joe Roth, John Brooks Klingenbeck / Studio: Disney „
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If you loved The Wizard Of OZ then you would just love this movie!
Director Sam Raimi aimed this movie around the Wizard and how he had became the wizard of OZ to match up nicely with the original Judy Garland movie. It's set 20 years ago before the Judy Garland.
The movie has a great variety of brilliant actors/actresses and some of the scenes aren't just funny but just purely genius with some great special effects included!
It's 1905 in Kansas and Oscar (also named OZ) works as a magician in a travelling circus, Oscar is a ladies man and seems to flirt with a lot of women, and gives them all a special "present" that was precious to him and was left by his grandma. unfortunately for Oscar he flirts with the wrong woman and her husband finds out and goes after him, with the storm approaching there isn't many places to hide But Oscar finds a hot air balloon and has a lucky escape or so he thought...
The storm gets worse and Oscar finds him self praying for help and saying that he would do anything if he had one more chance, he would change who he was and do things for the better.
The air balloon gets sucked into a tornado that takes him to the Land of Oz. Oscar first encounter with someone is Theodora the beautiful witch, It is Theodora who believes him to be the wizard prophesied to destroy the Wicked Witch who killed the King of Oz......
And that is just the beginning... if you thought the mini plot was good i suggest buying the movie! It's defiantly worth every penny and you can even pick it up on amazon or HMV under the deals section which always helps when your low on cash. I loved every minute of the movie in the cinema and still watch it now over and over again now i have it on DVD.
James Franco = Oscar (The wizard)
Mila Kunis = Theodora/wicked witch
Rachel Weisz = Evanora
Michelle Williams = Annie/Glinda
Zack Braff = Frank/Finley
Bill Cobbs = Master Tinker
Joey King = China Girl
Tony Cox = Knuck
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Written by: Mitchell Kapner, L. Frank-Baum, David Lindsay-Abaire
Running time: 130 mins
Age Rating: PG
Cinema release: March 8, 2013
DVD release: July 1, 2013
US box office: £234.9M
It was always going to be difficult to follow up such a beloved classic as the classic 1939 "Wizard of Oz", with the only attempt to provide a follow up previously being the much darker "Return to Oz" which outside of the cult cinema fans has largely been forgotten, no doubt thanks to it being the polar opposite of the original film and memorably opening to Dorothy being subjected to electroshock treatment! So with the house of mouse looking for a new cash cow and continual popularity of the musical "Wicked", it has been given to director Sam Raimi to find a way to kick start the franchise, which for once has refreshingly not meant giving us yet another reboot, or even daring to remake the 1939 version, which would no doubt have had the fanbase decending on the Disney offices welding flaming touches and pitchforks, even though it was as most people forget itself a remake of Larry Semon's original 1925 silent film.
Still with this latest jaunt to the wonderful land of Oz, Raimi clearly has the 1939 version in mind, opening like the original in black and white for the scenes set in 1905 Kansas, before bursting into Technicolor once Oz finds his getaway balloon whisked away via tornado to the land of OZ. A nice touch but one seemingly lost on some of the audience members in the same cinema as myself who grumbled about the lack of colour behind me, but once we return to Oz, it is honestly none the less magical than I remember my first visit, as Raimi unleashes a pallet of bright colours to paint the world, which as a long-time fan of Raimi's work is such a surreal thing to see, especially considering that Raimi is the same director who gave us "The Evil Dead Trilogy" (something sadly left of the posters) even though like with the Spiderman trilogy, he still lets his horror roots subtly leak through, here in the form of a cackling hag which bares a strange similarity to the deadites of "The Evil Dead".
Plot wise the film is Set 20 years before the events of "The Wizard of Oz", a struggling sideshow magician Oscar Diggs / Oz (James Franco), finds himself wisked away to the land of Oz, while on the run from his latest swindle, where the inhabitants are convinced he is the prophesied great wizard, while soon finding himself caught in the middle of a conflict between the three witches Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams) who are not convinced that he is the great wizard everyone thinks he is.
Considering that this is an original story and one not based on any of L.Frank Baum's Oz novels, or any of the subsequent spin off's , it could have been easy to have just followed the star maps tour of Oz, revisiting memorable locations and characters and while its true some of the familiar faces and places do get revisited such as the Munchkin village and the flying monkeys, it is kept purely within the focus of the story, much like its main plotline concerning the three fueding witches, whose battle for the control of Oz, our baffled magician finds himself in the midst of while thoughout the film, key chunks of Oz mythology are revealed such as how Theodora became her more recognisable green skin self. Elsewhere characters such as Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion receive cheeky nods from Raimi without the characters themselves actually appearing which the fans will no doubt have fun spotting especially the Tin Man reference which had to be pointed out to me, despite it being in plain sight. The plus side of such wandering from the more well-known parts of Oz, is the chance to explore lesser seen parts of the world such as the ruins of China Town, were Oz meets the delightfully charming China Girl (Joey King) who thankfully stays on the right side of her saturnine sweetness, while Oz also receives his own flying monkey sidekick with Finley (Zach Braff) who provides some great back and forth humour.
The plot itself is quick paced, though Raimi could certainly have benefited from slowing down things or perhaps arguing for a slightly longer run time, as the two hours flies by and never feels dragged out, with the spectacular finale perhaps feeling a little restrained as a result of making this run time. Still the constant use of magical and optical trickery makes for a fun ride.
Sadly when it comes to the casting it is more of a mixed bag, with James Franco continuing to prove himself as an engaging lead, especially when he plays the part with such a sense of wonder, as he constantly produces magical flourishes, skills that Franco honed with magician Lance Burton. Despite not being the first choice for the role with both Robert Downey Jr. and Disney's current go to guy Johnny Depp both being considered before him, both who thankfully turned down the role, especially when they would have no doubt lead to a more cartoonish and comical Oz than we get with Franco's portrayal who really sells the character and who reliance on misdirection and technology assisted trickery, are really building blocks on his path to becoming the Wizard of Oz. Elsewhere we get less than stellar performances from Weisz who fails to provid any real kind of threat to the proceedings, while Williams generally just seemed panicked throughout. Thankfully Kunis manages to provide some form of believable threat, as she pays homage to Margaret Hamilton's legendry portrayal of this role, even if she is forced to look like a green hard-boiled egg while doing so. Elsewhere the mandatory Bruce Campbell cameo ends up feels more contractual than any fun previous appearances in Raimi's films as he appears under heavy prosthetic make up as a Winkie guard in a forgettable sequence.
While Raimi, might not be working at the height of his powers, as a lot of the charm of this film is essentially gained from piggybacking off the original film and while he leaves a few plot threads open for a sequel he currently has no plans on making. Despite this the film still works as a standalone film, which considering how Disney are never satisfied until they have run and marketed any idea into the ground, is unlikely will be the case, so it remains to be seen were the next film will take us next, especially when this film feels like such a perfect setup for the original movie, so whether that will be soon receiving the remake treatment for now remains to be seen.
Oz the Great and Powerful
Sam Raimi's 2013 Wizard of Oz is the beginning of the yellow Brick road that Dorothy follows and apparently that twister that brought the house down on the wicked witch wasn't the first one to spin somebody into the land of Oz. Oz the Great and Powerful goes into depth about how Oz got to the land of Oz and what kind of wizard he is and why the wicked witch looks the way she does as well as other little things that you may not have questioned in the original Wizard of Oz where Dorothy tapped her red glittered shoes and said she wanted to go home so instead of this film being as equal it's more of a prequel.
James Franco as Oz
Mila Kunis as Theodora
Rachel Weisz as Evanora
Michelle Williams as Annie/Glinda
Zack Braff as Frank/Finley
Bill Cobs as Master Tinker
We all know the beautiful Rachel Weisz who plaid Evie in all three of the mummies, James Franco who played Harry in Spider-Man , Mila who played Lori in 2012s favourite Ted and Michelle who got the leading role in My Week with Marilyn playing Marilyn Monroe so there was a decent sized budget to say the least - you couldn't ask for a better cast (well you could) but to say the least the acting is outstanding and the roles were well suited to the actors so I can't fault the acting at all in that respect.
Oz the Great and Powerful is a circus magician with second hand clothes and very little to his name - he's a liar, a floozey and con man. After flying off in a hot air balloon and being span into a new world called the land of Oz strangely named after himself he learns there's a prophecy which is expected to be fulfilled and Oz isn't too sure if the wizard they're expecting to kill the witch is in fact him and seems to believe everything is a misunderstanding. All the things that Oz couldn't achieve back home he now achieves in his new home in Oz in the Emerald City and a few magic tricks don't go amiss to fool the wicked witches. Although Oz's bad habit of flirting breaks the heart of one witch who turns from beautiful to ugly and everything she learnt to feel towards Oz because of her heartbreak shows through her new appearance - we all have that one nut job ex I suppose (she only knew him five minutes).
The story follows nicely with the book but as always the book is better, and I like how Sam still linked everything in the Land of Oz to the life Oz had before he arrived in Oz such as the girl in the wheelchair who wanted to walk and then helping the china girl with walking again and giving his assistant a music box then her being heartbroken when she finds he gives them out a lot such as what happens with Theodora. The plot is smooth moving and compliments the original Wizard of Oz, obviously the book would have helped to create the script for the movie but overall it's different to most other films, it's creative and it teaches us all one thing - restraining orders can never go amiss for crazy ex's.
With all Disney films you can expect the best and nothing less so the colour schemes are amazing, the costumes are incredible and so is the make up art just to pick up on one thing the little china girl looks incredible and just something like what you would expect if she was real - there's obviously been a lot of hard work go into the creation of the characters and the special effects probably just as much as in Jurassic Park. Another form of special effects was the holographic and smoke projections which were used and other little magician tricks some not as impressive as others but all equally impressive. There was a good proportion used and I think any more could have spoilt the film but less could have made this film not really worth the hour and a half sit down with popcorn.
A Serious Talk
A Strange World
Where Am I?/Schmooze-a-Witch
The Emerald Palace
Treasure Room/Monkey Business
A Con Job
The Munchkin Welcome Song
The Bubble Voyage
Great Expectations/The Apple
Meeting the Troops
Theodora's Entrance/A Puppet Waltz
Bedtime/the Preparation Montage
Call To Arms
Oz the Great and Powerful
Time For Gifts
End Credits From Oz
Danny Elfman is known for composition and the work that he did for Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas which was amazing but I didn't really notice the music this time round sometimes you heard it a little like at the beginning or at the fire dance but that was it you just wouldn't recognize the music and you wouldn't even notice it was in the background and this is something so many films fail on but unfortunately this knocks the film down a bit I think it could have been a bit better with better music but that's my opinion.
Value for Money
I paid £9.99 for this film when it first came out on iTunes but you could rent for £4.49 at the time now you would still be paying £10 more or less for the film and I think it's worth the money in honesty I can't say it's not worth the price if you was to go to the cinema it would cost £14 for two adults and the rest at least so I think it's a fair price especially taking into consideration that it's a disney film so I would spend this money again but luckily I don't have to because I made my purchase through iTunes.
I would give this four stars as the soundtrack puts the film down a bit unfortunately but then I would recommend this film it's great for adults and children and my son likes to watch this film from time to time and it's something I can sit and watch a few times and have done without getting bored with it. Definitely worth the money and definitely worth watching.
From Disney and the people that brought us Alice in Wonderland and Snow White and the Huntsman comes another fairy tale adaptation, this time focusing on the land of Oz.
Oscar "Oz" (James Franco) is a magician working in Kansas. Chased by the circus strongman after flirting with his wife, Oz flees in his hot air balloon just as a tornado is brewing. With no way of escape, Oz is sucked in but gets taken to the land of Oz, where he meets witch Theodora (Mila Kunis). She tells him of the prophecy regarding the return of the King of Oz, of which she feels he is the one to fulfill.
Theodora's sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) tempts Oz with the treasure and the throne, which Oz could not refuse and accepts the mission to defeat the Wicked Witch who killed the previous king. But all is not as it seems when the Wicked Witch turns out to be the innocent Glinda (Michelle Williams) who reminds Oz of his love back in Kansas.
Oz must restore the land of Oz by removing the evil with the help of a flying monkey and a porcelain girl.
The black and white opening sequence worked well and aided the artistic style of the movie, enhancing the colourful and vibrant land of Oz. The range of settings (Dark Forest, Emerald City, Porcelain Place) give contrast and offer visual recognition of good vs evil with colour, light and mood.
The film also thematically and visually reflects and references Oz at the time of Dorothy, so whilst she isn't mentioned, themes will crop up that audiences will be familiar with.
Plot wise, the film moved in a rather linear direction and could have done with more twists and turns. The character development was predictable and so was the outcome.
I personally found the flying monkey rather annoying but this was offset by the more genuine and meaningful character of the porcelain girl. The scene where Oz heals her legs and raises her up parallels the beginning when Oz cannot heal the girl in Kansas, but also the story in the bible when Peter heals the crippled beggar- this is perhaps the most iconic sequence, offering themes of hope which there could and should have been more of throughout the movie.
As the movie reached its climax, no epic battle (like the other fairy tale adaptations) took place but instead a clever (but perhaps convenient) resolve. The ending was sweet and left open ended for a potential sequel.
James Franco- Oz
Mila Kunis- Theodora
Michelle Williams- Glinda
Rachel Weisz- Evanora
James Franco does a good job as Oz, bringing a cheek to the role. The three female leads don't particularly have much room to shine, though Mila Kunis perhaps does the best in bringing a range of emotions as the most diverse witch of the three.
'Oz, The Great and Powerful' offered yet another fairy tale visual feast with an average plot that will surely please the majority of audiences in some way, but lack any sort of grandeur that make it a great movie. With a good cast, the potential sequel will need to rein in the thematic strengths of this movie in order to really connect with the audience's heart.
I can't say I was ever a huge fan of the wizard of oz. never really seeing the film version and I don't think I even read the book (not being a big reader). The only time I've really had to take an interest in it, was when I was taken to seethe play when I was still in primary school, which I enjoyed but plays were not really my thing.
However after seeing the trailer for this whilst at the cinema, I felt that this was a version of the story I would be interested in watching. I wasn't wrong, and by watching it in 3D as well, I think it made it more enjoyable for me.
This is the story of of how oz became the wizard of oz, a kind of prequel to the well loved story. It has characters from the original story such as the munchkins, good and bad witches, and flying monkeys. Additional characters include Finley (a flying monkey) and a china girl. These characters all help Oz to succeed within assortment of tricks and illusions.
First impressions had me a little worried as it starts in black and white, had to be assured that this would change to colour later in the film! When it does change to colour (when we are introduced to the more fantastical world) you are in a treat.the quality of the picture mixed with a HDTV makes it look so pretty and is a feast for the eyes.
Another upside to this film is the soundtrack. Composed by Danny Elfman. It's may be biased,as I am a fan of anything composed by Danny Elfman, but the sound of the music really goes with the type of film this is with lots of ups and downs and key changes to fit the tone of the scene.
I bought this in head on blu-ray for £17. Although for the DVD it is slightly cheaper at £15. G online to amazon you could probably get it for even cheaper, but I just couldn't wait!
If you haven't already, then go buy this on DVD, better quality blu-ray and if you want it even better get the 3D version. Whichever you get you'll not be disappointed.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) was one of my favourite childhood films when growing up, its annual showing on the BBC over Christmastime brings back many fond memories for me and the fact that it's so revered almost seven decades on means that it's truly earned itself the well deserved accolade of being an all time classic.
"Oz the Great and Powerful" therefore was a brave movie for Disney to make, it had a lot to live up to simply because of peoples fondness for the original and whilst they wisely decided against the idea of remaking the classic or attempted to create a sequel that concentrated on events after Dorothy's departure they instead went for a prequel (of sorts) to explain how Oscar Diggs, a small time magician from Kansas, became the Powerful Wizard of Oz himself and how the Wicked Witch of the West came to be.
Oscar Diggs, known to those around him as Oz, is a Carnival magician in a traveling show. His act mainly consists of misdirection and flashy showmanship, he's not a great magician by any stretch of the imagination but gets by on his looks and charm. He has a way with the ladies and women are taken in by the attention and flattery he showers upon them however when he upsets the wrong person at the wrong time his world is literally turned upside down as he attempts to flee a potentially harmful confrontation. Caught up in the middle of a tornado in a hot air balloon he's about to be taken a long way from home....somewhere where dreams come true and a place that has been waiting a very long time for him to fulfill a prophecy...
With many nods to the original, "Oz the Great and Powerful" could have been a great film. Featuring a fantastic cast of well known, excellent actors, a director with a flair for interesting and flamboyant story-telling and modern technology to create spell-binding backdrops and special effects this had the potential to be truly magnificent. However once you get past how beautiful the film looks, and believe me it does look absolutely stunning, the story itself is very weak and lacks almost all of the charm and heart of the original.
James Franco is a good actor, I've liked many of the films he has starred in and in 'Oz' there's very little to complain about with what he's given to do. It's not his fault that he's lumbered with a script that's unconvincing and a couple of companions who feel out of place and irrelevant to the story and I do think that under the circumstances he's probably the best thing about the film as a whole. Oscar (Franco) is given a mission upon his arrival in Oz, taken in by the charms of a couple of sisters (Rachel Weiss and Mila Kunis) who just so happen to be Witches, they trick him into thinking that their other sister, Glinda (played by the talented Michelle Williams) is evil and must be killed (rather harsh I thought and not a particularly children-friendly concept for little ones to get their heads around either). Oscar at this point is greedy and egotistical he's blinded by the 'reward' for completing his mission so sets upon a journey to find Glinda and accomplish his task. He's joined by a flying monkey (as you do), who is a rather unconvincing CGI rendered, expressionless companion who doesn't really do a lot other than carry Oscar's bag whilst trying to be all Jiminy-Cricket-like and act as a concience plus, bizarrely enough, a rather creepy-looking living China doll who they come across whilst tracking Glinda down.
Neither of Oscar's companions are a good fit, the flying monkey is annoying and the China Doll too brattish (I can't even remember their names, that's how much of an impact they made on me), their discovery of her in what are incredibly tragic circumstances was rather incongruous I thought and really quite upsetting for young children to think about. Fortunately the genocidal aspect of the Doll's inclusion to the mix is glossed over rather quickly but is another example of the really quite brutal story-telling in what is supposed to be a family-friendly film. Oscar and his companions soon meet up with Glinda and of course the truth about her is revealed which then allows the plot it's chance to explain how everyone's favourite green-skinned, cackling wicked witch came to be.
Mila Kunis isn't Margaret Hamilton - a rather obvious statement to make I admit but Kunis just cannot in any way shape or form begin to even come close to Hamilton's portrayal of The Wicked Witch of the West. Sorry, I've committed myself to print now but as beautiful as Kunis is and as good as the make up effects on her were she just doesn't compare. She lacks all of the malevolence of Hamilton - the bony, twisted underlying menace of the original is lost and instead she's portrayed as a rather heaving-bosomed, accentuated eyebrows and chinned, watered-down version of what was a true cinematic villain. Kunis doesn't have the raspy voice of Hamilton, nor the ability to cackle like you'd expect a witch to, which is a shame and a wasted opportunity to explore the origins of a classic character, the source of many a childhood nightmare including mine. The film doesn't miss its opportunity to shock in other areas and some scenes I did think were a little brutal for younger audiences yet with the WWOTW they get it completely and utterly wrong and for me this was a major disappointment.
Rachel Weisz's Witch character is redundant, she has little to do and her inclusion onscreen not needed, Michelle Williams as Glinda on the other hand is rather glorious in her portrayal of the Good Witch and I did like the floaty, niceness that seemed to exude from her. Both Williams and Franco are excellent in their roles, Weisz and Kunis not as much sadly. The plot is rather plodding, obvious from the start - which isn't necessarily a bad thing given that it's as much a morality tale as anything else but the area in which the film absolutely excels in is the beautiful imagining of the country of Oz and it's stunning backdrops and cinematography.
Onscreen Oz comes to life, the colours are bright and clear and the attention to detail is magnificent. The various inhabitants are well conceived, dressed entirely in characterful clothing and altogether wonderful to see. It's a real shame therefore that this seems to be the area most concentrated on by the film makers rather than putting together a cohesive and interesting storyline for the characters to flesh out. For me the film felt rather cold, it didn't have the charm of the original nor the cosiness or warmth. It lacked any excitement, I wasn't drawn in to the characters and I thought it was a little too brutal in places for younger viewers to see and whilst there are some very nice nods to the original - the opening 20 minutes presented in black and white before turning to full colour once Oscar lands in Oz was nicely done I thought - overall the film was ultimately forgettable and certainly not an all-time classic in the making. Much like the Tin Man in the original, it needed a heart and for me it had none, it's a beautifully glossy film but all together rather superficial and wouldn't be a trip down the Yellow brick road that I'd want to take again.
There were a number of extras on the Disney DVD but I didn't watch any of them so cant comment on their content, this has therefore been a film only review.
Thanks for reading.
The famous Wizard of Oz may be great and powerful but Sam Raimi's 2013 origins story possesses neither of those two qualities. Instead of going for something grand and epic, Raimi opts for the easy way out, pouring all of his expensive budget into the scenic visual treat. There is very little focus on building any kind of coherent story, and much like Tim Burton's highly disappointing "Alice in Wonderland" back in 2010, the film's heart is in all the wrong places - which comes as yet another letdown prequel attempt by Hollywood trying to somehow enrich the well-known, beloved stories.
In the traditional "Wizard of Oz" style, the film starts off in black-and-white mode; after what can be described as an outstanding opening sequence of dizzying yet very artistic and creative opening credits (available on Youtube - this scene really is quite something), we are introduced to Oscar/Oz (James Franco), a womanising, self-centred circus magician/con-artist who dreams of not just goodness, but greatness. After a string of events that land him in a hot air balloon in the midst of a terrifying tornado, Oscar narrowly escapes death and ends up in the colourful land of Oz.
Here is where the film churns out an endless stream of magnificent looking unique features of Oz's nature - the trees, the flowers, the leaves, all the bright, vibrant colours come to life more so with the extra dimension, and this head-spinning sequence goes on for far too long in fact, completely going over the top, spending more than the necessary amount of time concentrating on its pretty visuals rather than pushing on with the story. Yes, yes we get that we're not in Kansas anymore, and that Oz is a much prettier place than the dull black-and-white place we came from, but can we move on here? Nope, Oscar needs to explore more on his own and go through waterfalls in his own journey. Not that Franco is a terrible actor by any means, it's just that Oz is a very flat character - a man not "good" enough for us to root for, but no way near charming enough to allow for some of his conceited side as a lead character.
Meeting him first is Theodora (Mila Kunis) the good witch, who then introduces him to her sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz), who clearly isn't a very good witch. There is a prophecy in Oz that a great wizard bearing the same name as their world will descend from the skies, will defeat the Wicked Witch and will restore peace, not that what we've seen so far of the land of Oz reminds us of any particular "chaos". Everything looked so damn beautiful! What peace is there to restore here? But the man up for that daunting task appears to be Oscar himself, who instantly grabs the opportunity to become rich and powerful.
Theodora truly falls for him, even delving into a fantasy world of her own where she will immediately become Oscar's wife and the two of them will rule over Oz as a happy couple. The sinister Evanora isn't convinced, and the political power struggle between the witches is further complicated by Glinda (Michelle Williams) who is so clearly the purest one of them all, what with her white dress and blonde hair. Lies and deceit tear these individuals apart, and eventually there comes a time where Oscar needs to step up, and lead an army to overthrow the dark powers that control Oz. Again, not so clear just what these dark people get up to - their world seems all so perfectly designed and run.
Only that it takes absolutely ages for Oscar to come to his senses. There is a lot of repetition when it comes to portraying him as a money/power/woman-hungry human who only cares about the royal treasures of Oz. Okay we get that he needs to change and as this is a Disney film we also know that he will play the hero in the end but the film's narrative is bogged down by one too many references to the fact that he's "capable of more than [he] know[s]."
But when it comes to the finale and linking everything together with what we've seen in "The Wizard of Oz", the film does manage to establish some clever links and use Oscar's baseline skills to its advantage in creating a big showdown. His skills as a con-artist he used so well on Earth are put to good use here, as are his sneaky wits. Franco does his best with the very limited sides to his lead character, one shallow, the other reformed and committed, but he brings enough cheeky humour into the role to provide some intermittent laughs.
As his sidekicks, the two computer animated characters are absolutely spot-on in design. The China Girl (Joey King) and Finley (Zach Braff) the flying monkey, though they don't exactly do much to contribute for most of the film's plot, show what amazing things tons of money and special effects can do.
Infuriatingly side-lined however, are the three witches. Their relationships are barely explored, and the dubious intentions that often don't make a lot of sense are forced in to spice up the dynamic between the three of them. Weisz, the obvious villain here, is disappointingly given a character too similar to that of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in that she's obsessed with looks, and she cunningly uses a poisoned apple to get her way. Weisz has a lot of fun with her duplicitous trouble-making witch, although she doesn't get nearly enough screen time to shine. Kunis gets the juiciest part here as the film's worst kept secret, and most obvious twist turn out to be true, hint hint. Williams is as lovely as ever but a touch bland, and frustratingly without much power. There is a witch duel between Glinda and Evanora, one that ends far too quickly without ever feeling as awesome as the trailers make it out to be.
All in all it's a hugely missed opportunity, something that cannot even make up for its thin plot with all the love for its visual department. The heart simply is not there, and neither is the excitement needed to successfully carry out a fantasy epic, which is what this tries to be. Everything may look amazing (the big, grand places, the costumes etc remain as glittery and shiny as ever) but what's behind them is surprisingly empty and hollow - kind of like the end-credit Mariah Carey song "Almost Home" - meh...
I have a confession to make. I have never actually seen the Wizard of Oz. I feel like I am the only person who hasn't seen it as everyone I have spoken to it has seen it including all my family (I have no idea where I was when they were all watching it). I did love the 1980's sequel Return to Oz however and remember seeing it several times as a child and thinking that it was not only a bit frightening but also very twisted and weird. Knowing the plot of the original was also a bit dark I was really looking forward to the new prequel and wondering what they would do for modern audiences.
~~~~~~~~~~ The Plot ~~~~~~~~~~
Oz: The Great and Powerful is a prequel to the original Wizard of Oz and follows the Wizard as he is transported to Oz. We also get some back story on the land of Oz before Dorothy and Toto arrive and also get to meet the witches one of whom will before the film finishes be turned into the famous wicked witch. There is something about a prophesy about a Wizard named after the land of Oz who will fall from the sky and rid the land of evil and ascend the throne as the rightful ruler of Oz. Of course it is never this easy and Oscar must go on a quest before he can claim the throne for himself.
~~~~~~~~~~ My thoughts ~~~~~~~~~~
I have to say that I was left feeling both frustrated and disappointed with Oz: The great and Powerful. That isn't to say that the film didn't have some great parts but in the end I felt that the film makers squandered an opportunity to make a brilliant film.
The film starts with Oscar Diggs who later becomes the Wizard working as a fairground magician on a travelling circus. Of course the film starts in Kansas and is filmed in black and white. As this part of the film is period the black and white works well and I also think it works as a great way to relax the viewer before assaulting their senses with the vibrant Technicolor that is Oz. This is one of the films main strengths in my opinion is that it looks absolutely fantastic when Oscar arrives in Oz. Everything is so vivid and the set pieces of Oz look absolutely amazing from the flowers to the Emerald City itself. The whole film is a real feast for the eyes.
My biggest criticism of the film is that it is just so pedestrian. The plot is paper thin which isn't a problem in itself but the most unforgivable part is that it is just a bit boring. We never find out exactly how Oscar is transported to Oz, apparently it is something to do with a prophesy but when he is actually there not a lot happens. It all looks spectacular but the script could have been written by a child. I was also disappointed with just how family friendly this is. I knew going in that it was a film aimed at families but some of the best family films have some darkness to them and I am sorry but I cannot imagine any child would find parts of this scary it was as frightening as the Tellytubbies. I expected better considering that this is a film by Sam Raime the man who gave us the original Evil Dead movie which is one of the most twisted films in cinematic history.
I also found the cast to be a bit hit and miss. I had read a lot of negative reviews concerning James Franco who plays the main character of Oscar Diggs saying that he had been completely miscast but I actually enjoyed his performance and thought he brought a lot of likeability and charm to a character that could be considered unlikeable.
Michelle Williams plays Glenda the good witch and she came to this film straight after playing Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn and I could have sworn that she was still inhibiting this character and had she broke in to a rendition of Happy Birthday Mr President I would not have been surprised.
The majority of the reviews I read about this film seemed to save all their best reviews for Mila Klunis who plays Theodora but I thought she was absolutely terrible and the worst of all the cast for me personally. I just found her to be shrill and annoying and I couldn't wait for her to be off the screen.
The most successful of all the main actors for me would have to be Rachel Weiz as Evanora who I thought not only looked absolutely beautiful on screen but she also seemed to be having the most fun with her character and completely blew away the other witches when they were on screen together.
The two main supporting 'actors' were really good and there was something in their performance for both adults and children alike to enjoy. Zach Braff voiced the character of Finley the flying monkey and he managed to generate a good few laughs. The character of China Doll was both amusing and a little bit creepy and I thought that overall these two characters were probably the best written in the entire film.
I went to see this in 3D and I am in two minds about it. Parts of the 3D looked amazing just like the rest of the film but parts of it actually left me feeling a little dizzy. I don't think the 3D was as successful as say Avitar but I think it was a lot better than the majority of 3D where you can tell things were added later after filming to up the 3D content.
~~~~~~~~~~ Recommendation ~~~~~~~~~~
Oz: The Great and Powerful wasn't an awful movie by any means but there was a lot that was wrong with it as far as I am concerned. I thought it was directed really well and it looked stunning but there were parts of the film where I thought it was boring and I think this was the fault of the script which just wasn't strong enough. I went in hoping for a new classic that could be enjoyed by all ages but left feeling that this was a film that was definitely only for kids as it just didn't have enough for adults to enjoy other than how it looked. I thought the film had all the elements to be a really good and enjoyable family film but it just fell a little bit flat for me. I did enjoy the majority of the performances in the film and enjoyed seeing more of the world of Oz being realized on screen and you could certainly see where the budget had been spent ( the estimated budget for the film is a staggering 215 million dollars) but when the film had finished I left the cinema feeling disappointed and was almost as if I had been cheated as the tone of the film was different to the one that was presented up on the screen.
I wouldn't personally watch this again but I am glad that I have seen it and for all fans of the original I guess you need to see this so that you can compare and contrast. Personally I wouldn't go in with high expectations and you might not be as disappointed as me. I am sure that kids will love it as it is a riot of colours and there is just enough in it that adults should be able to sit through it too. Overall I would give this two stars out of five as it was watchable but not great.
~~~~~~~~~~ Runtime ~~~~~~~~~~
The film runtime is 130 minutes so make sure and go to the toilet before hand
~~~~~~~~~~ Cast ~~~~~~~~~~
James Franco - Oscar Diggs
Michelle Williams - Glenda the good witch
Mila Kunis - Theodora
Rachel Weisz - Evanora
Zach Braff - Frank/Finley
Joey King - China Girl
Tony Cox - Knuck
About the film
Oz the Great and Powerful is a fantasy/ adventure film that was released at the cinema on 8th March. The film is based on the books by L. Frank Baum and is set 20 years before the film, The Wizard of Oz. Oz the Great and Powerful is rated PG and has a run time of 130 minutes.
Oscar Diggs is a magician in a travelling circus but really, he is just a trickster. In Kansas, he is swept away in a hot air balloon only to collide with a tornado. Begging for his life and promising to be a better man, Oscar finds himself land in a strange world - the land of Oz. The witch Theodora is there to meet him and explains about the King's prophecy, that a wizard will come to take the throne and save them all. Thinking he is going to have it easy, Oscar admits to being the wizard and cannot wait to get his hands on the gold provided as King. However, it soon becomes clear that he is not the wizard everyone is expecting and there is more than one witch in Oz. The lines are blurred between good and evil and Oscar must decide which witch is really good and true. He must also convince the people of Oz that he really is there to save them and must transform himself into the great and powerful wizard of Oz.
James Franco plays Oscar "Oz" Diggs
Mila Kunis plays Theodora
Rachel Weisz plays Evanora
Michelle Williams plays Glinda
Zach Braff provides the voice of Finley
Joey King provides the voice of China Girl
Tim Holmes plays the strongman who attacks Oscar for trying to court his wife, prompting Oscar to take the hot air balloon that sends him to the Land of Oz.
Bill Cobbs plays Master Tinker
Tony Cox plays Knuck
Abigail Spencer plays May
Bruce Campbell plays a Winkie
What I thought
I have to be honest; I don't really like The Wizard of Oz. I don't know why, but I prefer the sequel, Return to Oz so much more. However, I was absolutely dying to see this film.
Oz the Great and Powerful begins in Kansas where Oscar Diggs (played by James Franco) is working as a small time magician in a travelling circus. The beginning of the film is shown in a different way than with usual films. The screen size is smaller and it is all in black and white. Although I did think for a few minutes the cinema had messed the screen up, I quickly realised what was going on. This is one of the many little nods to the original film and I loved that a similar beginning was kept because it shows just what a different place Oz really is.
James Franco plays a womanising trickster who is a pretty bad magician but I liked him. He was sly and cunning, mean to his one and only friend who is played by Zach Braff and he just doesn't care about people. I was actually quite glad to see Oscar swept off away on a hot air balloon and into the tornado. The opening of the film isn't too long which means it doesn't take long for us to get widescreen and colour back too. When Oscar lands in Oz, we are treated to a vibrant and colourful place bursting with magic of its own. I really enjoyed seeing a new kind of Oz; one that wasn't run down and broken all over. I wonder what Dorothy would have made of it.
Oz the Great and Powerful has a great range of characters which I loved. We have Theodora the witch who greets Oscar on his arrival in Oz - she is played by Mila Kunis. When Oscar shows her a little more attention than he probably should, she fancies herself in love and wants to be with him forever. I really liked Theodora and Kunis playing her. Unlike the witches in the original film, this one is extremely stylish in leather trousers and heeled books along with a wonderful large, red hat. Then there is Rachel Weisz who plays Evanora, the wicked witch. Compared to The Bourne Legacy which I also watched recently, Weisz is great as Evanora, giving the character such a fantastic personality and performance. She and Theodora are sisters and I liked seeing the differences between the two.
A character more well-known from the original film is Glenda, the good witch although here she is from the South instead of the North for some reason. Anyway, playing Glenda is Michelle Williams. With a wonderful crown on her head, long flowing white dresses and such a lovely personality, Williams was the perfect choice for this role. I certainly couldn't have imagined her playing one of the other witches. Just like the original, she is sickeningly sweet and nice to everyone but that is just who the character is. Again, here, the filmmakers have given a nod to the original film with Glenda's big bubbles and her being friends with the Munchkins.
As the plot unravels, you soon realise that not everyone is who they seem and the real good and bad witches are revealed. The film turns into a race to create an army of sorts in order to defeat the evil witch. This is also where Oscar comes into play and needs to finally be the wizard everyone thinks he is. I really enjoyed the plot regarding the wizard and being able to see how he came to be the illusionist he is in the original film. I enjoyed seeing certain characters develop while keeping the plot moving at a steady pace. While not all of this film is as exciting as maybe it could have been, there are moments for everyone to enjoy. I have to say, two particular characters (Finley the monkey and The Little China Girl) made me giggle and smile throughout and were two of the reasons I ended up loving this film.
While this is a PG, there are some moments which younger children would maybe find quite frightening such as the flying monkeys. However, I do think that this is a wonderful family film and one I enjoyed thoroughly.