Movie Review – Oz the Great and Powerful
We know little about the man called Oz. We see him for a short time in The Wizard of Oz both in Kansas as a wizard/fortune teller and in Oz as a cowardly man who uses Dorothy and her friends to carry out his wishes. But what is he really like?
Oz The Great and Powerful is a prequel to the movie we all know and love. It starts by taking up back to Kansas. Oscar (James Franco), known as Oz to his friends is the magician in a traveling circus. He’s lecherous, cowardly, and all around not really a good guy. He treats his only friend Frank played by Zach Braff has the help and doesn’t seem to care about anything. He’s still oddly self-aware of his own shortcomings. While he ends up in Oz this is went you are dazzled by the view. The transition from Black & white to color is more subtle than it is in WoW but its just as vivid, vibrant and dramatic. The world of OZ is amazing to look at and we get a nice long time to drink it all in. Surviving a tornado and coming to a magical place isn’t going to change Oz overnight, when he meets Theodora (Mila Kunis) She is shy, naïve and gullible. He sees this and pounces on her. She sees him as the great savior of the prophecy but he sees her as someone beautiful to charm and bed which he does. Along the way to Oz we meet a flying monkey Finley voiced by Zach Braff who Oz saves. Now that he has someone to boss around and do his dirty work Oz is thinking life here might be pretty good.
There are only 3 witches in this version. Theodora, Evanora (Rachel Wiesz) her sister and the Royal Advisor for the previous king before he was poisoned by her. Evanora is bad, she controls the flying monkeys although Theodora is oblivious to all this. She knows there is a wicked witch but she has been led to believe its Glinda (Michelle Williams) the daughter of the former King. When Evanora convinces Oz to kill Glinda to fulfill the prophecy she entices him with more gold then he could every believe. She plays right into his greed because she wants the throne for herself. Without giving it away, 1 of these 3 becomes the green Wicked Witch of the West thanks to a spell. The other becomes the Wicked Witch of the East until her date with Dorothy’s house.
When Oz sets out on his mission he ends up in China Town and helps a young china doll (Joey King). Her village was destroyed by the flying monkeys. Oz being kind and being reminded of a girl at his previous show, uses his ‘magic’ glue to fix her broken legs. She rounds out the trio as they set forth to defeat Glinda.
Glinda sees right thru Oz. She calls him on his shit and tells him that its not really important. All they need to do is make the people believe that he is the Wizard and the prophecy will restore the land to order. There is an odd lack of singing in this movie. I know its not a musical but there’s 1 musical number and the rest of the score is all the magic of Danny Elfman. By the time we get to the end of Oz the Great and Powerful we have the Oz we all know, they man behind the curtain. He’s not the man he was when he landed in Oz and we all know it.
I loved this movie. Its visually stunning and the story is pretty good. I was disappointed with the ended, Even though I know that the events take place some time before Dorothy makes it to Oz, seeing it end with either the creation of the Ruby Slippers or even a second tornado bringing Dorothy in would have tied them together better. That shouldn’t stop you for seeing it. The movie is not about the witches its about Oz and him changing as a person more than any witch changes who she is.
My Rating: Full Price
Director: Sam Raimi
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
MPAA Rating: PG
Run Time: 2 hours 7 minutes
Recommended ages: 8 and up
Images courtesy of Disney Enterprises