Review: Oz the Great and Powerful
Spoiler alert. If you haven't seen the movie please be warned.Some plot points are shared.
My family and I had the opportunity to see Oz the Great and Powerful earlier this week. Early reviews from the tweens, "best movie they've seen in a while." Effin Guy and I have been discussing it on and off and there are a few things that I cannot seem to let go. I wanted to love the movie but can only say I just really liked it. The movie itself was beautifully filmed but I have trouble understanding how and why the movie portrayed the wicked witches.
But before I begin. A synopisis:
Disney’s fantastical adventure, Oz The Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved wizard character. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot — fame and fortune are his for the taking —that is, until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity — and even a bit of wizardry — Oscar transforms himself not only into the great wizard but into a better man as well.
So, going in I was so excited for the movie. Ever since James Franco's "just got away with it" grim grace previews, I was all set to adding to the mythology of Oz. I have read he Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum, watched the Judy Garland movie over and over, read Gregory Maguire's Wicked and love a good back story.
First the positives:
In a delicious homage to the original film, the movie is shot in both black & white and color. When we first meet Oscar in early 1900 Kansas, his shenanigans are filmed in black and white. Once Oscar is transported to Oz, the film bursts into brilliant colors and fills the screen with lush images.
Speaking of Oscar, James Franco does a superb job of being a lying, cheating, nogoodnick. He does smarmy well and his character developed nicely throughout the movie. His transformation from lout to better man is managed well and he seems to grow in a way that makes sense. He's clearly flawed as the movie opens, lying to his audience, abusing his friends and being a womanizer. By the movie's end he is making strides to be a better person.
The 3d was a good fit. There were some times it felt gratuitous but the images popped off of the screen and kept me and my tweens entranced. I enjoyed the beautiful land of Oz and never felt that it looked overdone or too fake.
Zach Braff as Finley. My monkey issues aside, he made a great second banana (pun intended). As a human Braff's character was loyal to a friend who didn't appreciate for reciprocate the sentiment. As the flying monkey in Oz Finely was the voice of reason and funny.
"Argument over Oz," clip from Oz the Great and Powerful
"Trip by Bubble" clip from Oz the Great and Powerful
What was the deal with the witches? None of them were developed enough to make anything they do believable.
With Theodora, she literally believes that a man that falls from the sky is her soul mate. When Oscar arrives in Oz, he meets and charms Theodora. Theodora is duped by Oscar's charm and immediately begins to plan a life with him. After Theodora is manipulated into believing that Oscar has been "charming" other women, she seeks a potion to make herself forget the pain and becomes bent on revenge for Oscar's wrongs.
The wicked witch is wicked because she was dumped. Way to go.
And her sister, Evanora…other than than wearing black throughout the movie how did we know she was evil? Oh yeah. She told lies and fooled people into believing what she wanted them to believe. Sorta what Oscar does but Evanora keeps people submissive with the implied threat of some bad witch spell. Once thwarted, in what can only be called a witch cat fight with Glinda, Evanora loses her looks as well as her upper hand as head witch in charge.
As for Glinda, always my least favorite character in the land of Oz, she was granted with a bit more developed back story. We know she takes care of the people of Oz and seems infinite patience with the loser of a wizard she has been charged with and a very forgiving nature.
You don't have to take my word for it. The movie is playing in theaters and is a stunner to watch. Enjoy and see you on the yellow brick road.
Rachée Fagg is a Delaware County, PA mom. This post was adapted from her blog, Say It Rah-shay.