Oz The Great and Powerful

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It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (1 People gave this 5.00 out of 5)
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This is not your Grandmother’s “The Wizard of Oz”

Oz The Great and Powerful

At last, we finally get to see how the great and powerful Wizard of Oz came to be.  I know there have been books written about the Land of Oz, but I can’t recall there being a movie about the origin of the characters.  With “Oz The Great and Powerful,” we learn how both the Wizard and the Wicked Witch of the West came to be.

Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Issac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs, or Oz for short (James Franco) is a magician in a traveling circus, circa 1905.  Currently the circus is in Kansas and Oz is performing with the help of his assistant Frank (Zach Braff).  We learn pretty quickly that Oz is a bit of a con man and a lot of a lady’s man.  One of his scams is to give pretty ladies a music box that he claims was his grandmother’s (he actually has quite a bit of these music boxes).  Oz is good at smoke and mirrors and other assorted tricks, which sure comes in handy later!!  When he is chased down by a paramour’s lover, he goes on the run and ends up…in a hot air balloon.  Not really a great place to hide when a storm is coming.

Of course there is a tornado (apparently the transportation method to get to the Land of Oz) which sweeps up the magician Oz and that’s when everything changes.  Oz meets Theodora (Mila Kunis) and pretty much instantly, sparks fly.  See, there is a prophecy that there will be a great wizard who will come and save the Land of Oz.  Theodora truly believes the prophecy is about Oz.  She brings him to the Emerald City, where he meets Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and a giant room full of gold, all of which will be his when he takes the throne.  One catch though, he needs to defeat the evil witch by breaking her magic wand.

Off Oz goes with Finley the flying monkey (also Zach Braff).  Along the way, they pass by China Town (not what you are thinking) and pick up another mate to join along in their travels, China Girl (voiced by Joey King).  When they reach the Dark Forest, they discover that they were tricked, and the ‘evil’ witch was actually Glinda the Good Witch (Michelle Williams).  Glinda convinces Oz to help her, and the people of Oz, defeat the witches that currently reside in Emerald City, thereby freeing the Land of Oz!!

Together with the residents of the Land of Oz, the magician Oz plans an amazing spectacle to defeat the two evil witches.  What follows next is a real nail-biter, as the people of Oz battle the two evil witches to gain control of the Emerald City.  I won’t give any more away but it truly is amazing.

With a two hour and ten minute running time, you would think the movie might drag but the time flew by.  The story is immersing, I felt like I was there in Oz!!  Maybe that was due to the 3D effects.  Unlike The Wizard of Oz this was not a musical, although there was one partial musical number.

Solid acting performances all around, even with wild card James Franco.  You just never know what you’ll get, between the cheesy Spider-Man 3 (“You’re my best friend forever Peter”) and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which he was really good in.  Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz were great as the witch sisters (Weisz especially being deliciously evil) and Michelle Williams was a fabulous Glinda the Good Witch.  As most of the movie, he was the voice of the monkey Finley, Zach Braff had to rely on his distinctive voice to animate his character (did you know he was also the voice of Chicken Little?).  I won’t give away who, but the actress whose character became The Wicked Witch of the West gave a stand-out performance as well.

At first, I thought the production quality was kind of lacking.  It looked like they were on a giant set.  Then I realized…it looked like The Wizard of Oz looked!!  Amazing!!  Keep in mind, this is not a remake of The Wizard of Oz, rather it’s a prequel.  Although direct references to The Wizard of Oz weren’t allowed, they made many nods to the earlier film; if you keep your eyes and ears peeled you’ll spot them.  I’m not sure if there will be a sequel to this but I hope so as I would love the chance to visit Oz again.

The movie is rated PG for some scary scenes (the flying monkeys, for one, which definitely had facelifts!!) but overall this is a great family movie that can be enjoyed by fans of The Wizard of Oz and newcomers also.


2 Responses to “Oz The Great and Powerful”

  1. H-Man Says:

    I am definitely interested in seeing this, though I'm not sure James Franco was the best choice for Oz, and I heard a lot of people comparing this to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, and not favorably. Still, this review gives me hope for it. I did just watch The Return to Oz for the first time since I was a little kid, and I found it to be creepy, weird, and utterly charmless. I do pray this is better than that.

  2. RickSwift Says:

    MUCH better, H-Man. Incidentally, here is my review on NerdSpan. http://www.nerdspan.com/movie-review-oz-the-great

    I have heard people knocking Franco for "looking out of place and lost" in his scenes . . . uhm, that is EXACTLY how he should be in a magical land filled with strange creatures. I think his aloofness was by choice not by mistake.

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