directed by: Sam Raimi
written by: David Lindsay-Abaire and Mitchell Kapner
Just to give a little context into my very cynical and black heart, my father considers his favorite movie ever to be The Wizard of Oz, and has the entire film memorized and can even act it out in front of the TV. (trust me, I’ve seen it) so with that in mind I’ve pretty much known everything about this movie ever. So when my father saw the trailer for “Oz the Great and Powerful” before we saw Lincoln, he put his hand over his face and said “some things they should never touch”. After viewing the film I can pretty much agree with him.
Oz the Great and Powerful is the newest film directed by Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Spiderman) and written by David Lindsay-Abaire (Inkheart) and Mitchell Kapner (The Whole Nine Yards). This film had one gunshot to the knee right out of the starting gate by having it be a prequel to a film that is now over 70 years old. Most would consider this a great opportunity to tell a story of who these characters were before their role in the classic film, but unfortunately the script doesn’t know what to do with them either.
James Franco plays Oz a carnival magician who has dreams of being a better person and moving on to bigger and better things. One day on the job, he gets caught trying to seduce one of the many women that he meets and gets chased until he gets away in a balloon. Suddenly at that moment, a tornado (possibly twister) sucks him in and he (somehow) gets transported to the land of Oz (or dies horribly in the crash but they never bring it up so it could possibly be his own purgatory). While there he quickly meets Theodora (Mila Kunis) who instantly recognizes that he is a wizard and their adventure is off to the Emerald City.
If any of this starts to sound familiar, just stop me, cause it would appear as though this film has to go through the cliff-notes of the previous film: follow the Yellow Brick Road, Munchkins, poppy field, you must kill the witch to progress, the liar reviled. Instead of the film going in its own direction, it decided to almost copy the first film scene for scene while trying to “have its cake and eat it too”. That’s not to say that the whole film is bad, its just has a “meh” feeling throughout it.
I did enjoy certain things, like the first 30 minutes. I did also very much enjoy a scene between a china doll and Oz that showed that he has a gentle side. It was a very delicate moment that I thought was going to be the turn for the character, but unfortunately in the next scene it would appear that he didn’t learn anything. This is very frustrating especially because this film has a Jar Jar (once he’s on screen, you’ll know how it is) that is toned down but is still super annoying every time he opens his mouth. I also did like the performance from The Wicked Witch of the West (no spoilers on who it is). She turns in a performance that is actually scary and a threat. One of my favorite lines from here was “we will coat the yellow brick road with the blood of everyone” Definitely badass.
Unfortunately there really isn’t much else to comment on, cause it’s the generic story that everyone (and their grandma) can see coming cause we’ve already seen this. Oz the Great and Powerful isn’t bad, and I think it would be great for kids, but for people in my age range of 14 and up, its just a tedious and boring adventure that seems to just have nothing to say about itself.
The 3D and other technical jumbo:
The film starts off in the 1.33:1 framing and I did notice that the sound is in mono. Once we get to Oz it switches to the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, color, and in 7.1 and i think the transition for this was very well done. The 3D itself was utilized for mostly a “commin at ya” type feel, so many things bounce off the screen towards the audience. To me personally, I believe this to be the shit kind of 3D that keeps drawing attention to itself and is annoying rather than immersive. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its moments of being fantastic. When there is snow, or long tunnels, its incredible in its depth and feels great. If you were debating on weather to go with the 3D or not, I’d say not to UNLESS you really wanted to.