Well hasn’t this been a dull week for movies. The only two movies with any chatter about them being Insidious: Chapter 2 and Riddick, two movies that sound as exciting as sitting in the waiting room for a doctor’s appointment. So with that in mind, when my roommate rented Oz the Great and Powerful, a movie from earlier in the year that I had yet to see I thought that today would be a good day to give it a shot and see what I thought. After it was all finished, I could at least say with certainty that it surprised me in a good way. Whenever I first heard of the film’s release all I could think of was that this was just a not so subtle attempt to suck as much money out of the people who are fans of the original Wizard of Oz without making a remake of the movie and receiving the hate and derision of just about every person who has liked cinema ever. But I was surprised at the type of film that was produced. While it was a very safe film it still was a pleasant surprise from the beautifully painted turd I was expecting it to be.
Oz the Great and Powerful is the story of Oscar ‘Oz’ Diggs (James Franco), a magician in a traveling circus who wants to accomplish great things with his life. After thoroughly pissing off the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ (Tim Holmes) by flirting with his wife. He runs off in a hot air balloon but is caught in a tornado that takes him to the Land of Oz where he meets a naive witch named Feodora (Mila Kunis) who believes him to be the prophesied wizard who will come to slay the Wicked Witch (Rachel Weiesz). Assuming the role of the great and powerful wizard, Oz meets several friends along the way, including a flying monkey (Zach Braff) and a porcelain doll he rescues (Joey King). The story then revolves around the classic trope of a man pretending to be something he is not and still trying to beat the great evil that affects the land.
Good Visuals and the Intro to Oz is a Good Throwback to the Original
I did like the fact that the film did pull a similar style to the original where the ‘real world’ remained in black and white while the Land of Oz is bright, vibrant, and colorful. It didn’t have the same punch since the movie spent such a small amount of time in the real world to give the whimsical feeling that the original gave. If the movie spent just a little bit more time in the real world then it really would have given the Land of Oz more oomph.
If you watched my podcast, The Nerdiest Talk Show on Earth than you already know what I think of these movies that cost $200,000,000. (HINT: I hate them!) Plus one of the things that I really hate about the $200,000,000 movie is that for a lot of them it is hard to see where all the damn money went. In this one… Yeah I can see it. It makes sense that they would need that kind of money to make the movie that they did. Though I do find it funny that the original movie looks better with practical effects then the CGI land that they used. (Sorry… curmudgeon old film nerd ranting)
The movie does look good and the money was well spent bringing the world alive. I like the movement of the CGI characters like the Monkey and China Doll is very well done and looks very life-like. The movie truly is one of those films that you can watch just to see the pretty visuals on the screen.
They Were Able to Deliver an Oz Movie Without Remaking the Original
I’m glad that for once, someone had the bright idea to not attempt to remake a movie and instead chose to make a prequel. Like I said many times, I am not a fan of prequels, but I am less of a fan of remakes which almost always blow. To remake the Wizard of Oz would be the equivalent of committing movie production suicide. To make a this movie the way that they did really is the whole ‘having your cake and eating it’ scenario. The production company can collect from people’s wallets on the Oz franchise without receiving the hate of the entire world. So kudos for using common sense for once.
This movie is all over the place! I’m not sure if it is meant to be whimsical, dark, or cheerful, or what! This movie just doesn’t know what it wants to be and that is a problem. The film feels very sporadic and just lacks any type of consistency to it. It is great for a film to make you feel many different types of emotions, but when they are so quick that it gives you emotional whip-lash… Well this can be a bit of a problem.
Nothing Really New Is Brought to the Table
For a movie in the Oz franchise, you would really expect a movie like this to bring something new to the table. But instead… Yeah this is just some random popcorn movie. There isn’t anything bad about it… But there isn’t anything really good about it. For a movie series that completely revolutionized what it means to be a movie, you would think its prequel would have something new to say. I could say that this can be considered a major flaw for a movie like this that it is… Just a movie and nothing more. It is just a fun popcorn movie that has really been forgotten even as the 2013 year has gone on. Sure it will get a few views from people who really like the movie and the Oz series… But other than that it will just slip into obscurity.
To compare this thing to The Wizard of Oz would be a bad idea. The two films are not on the same level of cinematic skill. Oz: The Great and Powerful isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either. There are some good moments to it and you can at least watch it and not feel bad about seeing it. It won’t leave a lasting impact, but it is okay.
Final Score 2.5/5
Thank you for reading. As always if you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more. Come back on Tuesday when I will be honoring the career of Hayao Miyazaki by reviewing his animated epic film Howl’s Moving Castle.