Life and 100 Films: Charlie’s Review of Oz The Great and Powerful

Oz_-_The_Great_and_Powerful_PosterThe moment I heard Disney was making Oz the Great and Powerful, I was ecstatic. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a big movie geek, especially with anything made by Disney, so this was a GREAT match made in heaven.  I’ll leave it to Wikipedia for the plot:

The film is directed by Sam Raimi and stars James Franco as Oscar Diggs, Mila Kunis as Theodora, Rachel Weisz as Evanora, and Michelle Williams as Glinda. The Great and Powerful serves as a prequel to Baum’s 1900 introductory novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and an homage to the 1939 MGM Classic, The Wizard of Oz. Set 20 years before the events of both sources, Oscar Diggs arrives in the Land of Oz where he discovers three witches; Theodora, Evanora, and Glinda. Oscar is then inclined to restore order in Oz, while struggling to resolve conflicts with the witches and himself.

One of the great things I really loved about the film was its continuity. Just as in the original film, the opening sequence is presented in black-and-white, and then transitions into color when the protagonist arrives in Oz. We are also treated to some new changes as well: the aspect ratios and sound effects are different (don’t worry, Glinda still travels in a giant bubble), and the Emerald City looks better than ever. Not too many changes have taken place, however, as we still have the iconic Wicked Witch of the West and her sister Glinda, the Good Witch. Several actors who play Oz characters make cameos in the Kansas scenes as well! I don’t want to spoil everything for you, so if you haven’t seen it, look out for these homages, and comment below on what you think they are! While there are some differences from the books and the original film, Mr. Raimi has done a great job colliding all these worlds together to make a great piece of art for fans of old and new!

If you are a fan of Oz, I don’t see how you won’t enjoy this movie. Is it a masterpiece? No, however I think that it served its purpose perfectly and will allow generations of people to enjoy the works of Baum in new ways. If you didn’t know, Disney plans to turn this into a new franchise of their own, especially after it dominated at the box office. I know there are some fans that are mad about this: the fact that the film got the Disney treatment, James Franco’s acting, etc. In my opinion, they need to just shut up and live a little! Even though I may be biased as a massive Disney fan, I think they did great by this franchise, and I love James Franco in the role. Would I have liked Robert Downey Jr. or Johnny Depp better as they were the original picks? Maybe, but I think James did a great job for what it’s worth. To be honest the person I was a little disappointed in was Mila Kunis (something just didn’t seem right), while on the other hand, Michelle Williams was made for her role. I was also happy to see Zach Braff back in the game, as I have missed him on the screen.

It’s been a long time coming for the world of Oz to return to the big screen, especially with the technology we have today to really bring this world to life. Disney has been trying to do it for quite some time, and even though MGM may have been a bit of an annoyance since they seem to own the most random rights (like the ruby slippers from the original film), I think they did a fine job, especially with the ending! Some think it’s a ripoff of Wicked to some regard, but this film is actually loosely based on the original books (which I now want to read), whereas Wicked is completely made up. All in all, if you are a fan of Oz, fantasy, or just a plain good old-time at the movies, I suggest you go see this film, as I don’t think you will be disappointed.

4 out of 5 Stars