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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Movie review: Oz: The Great And Powerful

Welcome back to the wondrously and imaginative magical land of Oz, before the time when Dorothy wandered along the yellow brick road and things were a bit ...less wondrous and imaginative.

A poster depicting the incredibly beautiful scenery of Oz: The Great And Powerful

The movie begins in black and white and in the old 4:3 format as we see Oscar "Oz" Diggs (played by James Franco) in the time before he ventured to the land of Oz.
Here he is a womanizing con-man and a magician who has his own magic show on a traveling circus, bossing around his underling, Frank (played by Zach Braff), and dreams of becoming more than a good man - a great man. He is so intent on becoming one that he even gives up the woman he loves, Annie (played by Michelle Williams), for his goal.
However, as a result of his debauchery, he is forced to flee in a hot air balloon from one the men whose wife/girlfriend he has romanced. Once up in the air, he's caught in a tornado where he pleads to be saved and swears he will become a great man if he survives.

He is then transported to the magical land of Oz.

As this is the prequel to one of the most well known films in history, it's not much of a surprise how the movie will end - despite a few fun twists here and there. And from how the set-up is played out, there isn't much left to the imagination about how our hero, Oz will develop during the course of the story, thus how things will play out.

So, what are we left with? The fun and exciting wonders the world of Oz and its inhabitants has in store for us, of course.

Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot of that to go around. Sure, there are magical things and whatnot, but it has taken a poor queue from the Star Wars prequels; Where the original films were much more along the lines of fantasy, where you merely needed an playful mindset and imagination to believe what was happening on screen was true, these new films falls too deep into the pits of logic and science-fiction.
Whether the books concerning the world of Oz and all its other screen depictions also center more on the logical instead of the whimsical is nothing I'm aware of since the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz is all I've experienced of this world prior to Oz: The Great And Powerful.

The classic witch in all her glory!
Just as in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz aspect which centers around the fact that the main characters Oz
meets in the land of Oz represents the people he knew in real life. Frank is Finley (Zach Braff), Annie is Glinda (Michelle Williams), and so on.
None of the actors in this film pulls out any unforgettable acting, but no-one comes close to making a bad performance.

The most wondrous aspect of the entire film is in its visuals. And to the film's (and Sam Raimi's) credit, it is gorgeous. Very, very colorful, in bright colors with still a touch of dark shades everywhere - indicating that this is a slightly darker time and story than in the merry The Wizard of Oz.

Despite it's mistakes, this is not a bad movie, but it's not nearly as good as I expected. It's neither as exciting and fun nor as good as it overall could - and should have been.
One of The Wizard of Oz's biggest strong points is the heartwarming feeling it gives to its audience. And this, more than the story, visuals and perhaps even the characters is what Sam Raimi should have focused on giving us.

This movie should have been directed towards our hearts - not our minds.


The good:
The scenery!
Lovely and fun fantasy

The bad:
More logical wonders than imaginative ones
Not very exciting

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