OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL (2013)
I liked Sam Raimi’s Oz The Great And Powerful but, I didn’t love it like I’d hoped. There seems to be an element of fun that the film is missing and that keeps it from being a real treat like it should be. Oz is based on L. Frank Baum’s books and is a prequel to the classic 1939 The Wizard Of Oz. It tells the story of selfish womanizer and shyster carnival magician, Oscar Diggs (James Franco) who, while escaping a jealous husband in a hot air balloon, is grabbed by a twister and whisked to the mystical land of Oz. Greeted there by pretty witch, Theodora (Mila Kunis), who instantly falls to his charms, she tells Oscar that he is the fulfillment of a prophecy that a great wizard would fall from the sky and save Oz from the Wicked Witch, Glinda (Michelle Williams). When brought to the emerald city, Diggs is promised by Theodora’s sister, Evanora (Rachel Weisz) the throne of Oz and a mountain of gold but, first he has to destroy Glinda by stealing her wand and breaking it. Oscar accepts this quest with riches in his eyes but, soon discovers that he has been duped and it is Evanora who is the Wicked Witch and Glinda is the exiled Good Witch. Now having fallen for Glinda, he must find the selfless hero within to help the Good Witch defeat Evanora and free Oz of the Wicked Witch’s tyranny but, there is one catch… using the jilted Theodora’s feelings for Oscar against her, Evanora transforms her sister into a angry and vengeful witch who may be far more wicked then she herself. Oz is an entertaining enough movie but, there just seems to be something missing. Director Raimi and his leads seem to be taking things far too seriously and it’s not till well into the second half that the movie really provides some solid fun and the cast start to enjoy their larger then life characters. James Franco and Mila Kunis especially don’t seem to quite fit into their roles with Kunis outright appearing to be overall miscast. While Franco seems to settle in and start to enjoy himself as the future Wizard Of Oz in the second half, Kunis just never seems to have a good time with the over the top nature of the character, unlike Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams who seem to get the point from the beginning. The supporting cast are also fairly lively including the vocal talent for the CGI characters and there are plenty of colorful supporting characters and creatures. Despite taking the material a bit too seriously, director Sam Raimi does deliver a visual feast of color and design populated with some wonderful settings and characters. He and his FX technicians deliver a sumptuous and epic looking Oz that not only recreates elements from the first film but, beautifully expands upon it. MGM still owns the rights to the original Wizard Of Oz so, Raimi and Disney couldn’t recreate everything but, they do a good job at a visual match in what ways they could. The second act and the battle for Oz does give us a bit more of the fun we came looking for but, it still doesn’t help that we had to wait over an hour for Franco and the film to liven up. And it’s a shame a talented actress like Mila Kunis just couldn’t deliver an iconic Wicked Witch that the film needed. She was so bubbly and fun in Friends With Benefits, where was THAT actress when we needed her? Sometimes a role just isn’t right and it’s too bad because, this could have been a real blast if she had hit the right notes or at least followed Weisz’ lead and had fun with it. Overall I would still recommend the film as it has plenty to offer but, just not as much as it should have and it is a good film rather then the great movie it had the potential to be. And a movie telling the story of how The Wizard Of Oz came to be, needs to be a great movie!
3 fried Francos