Home Film reviews Oz, The Great and Powerful

Oz, The Great and Powerful

by Louisa Klein

This movie was highly recommended to me by an eight year old girl, daughter of an ex-colleague of mine. We were having tea together and she started talking about this film with wide eyes, praising the amazing special effects and colours. Not to mention the engaging story. Her mum nodded and smiled. That should have been a hint for me, since her mum ALWAYS nods and smiles, whatever her beloved daughter says.
I want to be fair to this movie, so here’s my opinion: this is an amazing, AMAZING FILM FOR CHILDREN. If you have kids under the age of 12, just pack them up and take them to the cinema, they will fall in love with it. But I have to warn you: you’ll probably get bored.
Here’s the plot: “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. When small-time magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) pulls one flimflam too many, he finds himself hurled into the fantastical Land of Oz where he must somehow transform himself into the great wizard-and just maybe into a better man as well” (from Imdb).
I would say: duh.
My general impression, is that this film is a waste opportunity. I mean, Disney recruited a super-talented director like Sam Raimi (watched his Spiderman trilogy like 20 times, literally), a great cast, Danny Elfman to compose the soundtrack… And what was the result? Well, a cheesy film for little children.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that cheesiness is part of Disney’s signature, but one has to support it with something: a story, good dialogues, some action.
Starting from the story, it is very simple and cheesy: James Franco is a selfish young man whose priority is to bed hot women. Then, while chased by a robust love rival, he’s ‘hurled away’ to the magical Oz, where he will start an unwilling journey to learn how to love and be selfless. There’s not much of a plot here, but it could have totally worked, if this amazing cast has had some decent dialogues to showcase their talent.
Franco, who is an Oscar nominee, for a start has no lines to work with.  Neither has the beautiful, talented Rachel Weisz, who plays one of the two wicked witches. In fact, said two witches have so little personality, that they are practically interchangeable: they could swap lines and one wouldn’t notice.
To make things worse, James seems to overplay his part, pulling faces, being really over the top. And, again, we are talking of an Oscar nominee here! What the hell has Raimi done to him??
There is also practically no action at all. It takes half of the movie to get into the story and then… nothing really happens. Kudos to those who created the trailer, they are geniuses who managed to concentrate in it those 30 seconds of action, making it look like as if it was an actual action movie.
Raimi starts well, echoing the original film’s black-and-white to Technicolor, adding a number of elegant, old fashioned special effects. Then he drops Oz into a maelstrom of kid-in-a-candy-store 3D which makes your eyes widen and you go ‘oooh, I want more’. But there is no more ‘more’, unfortunately. Everything sloooooooows the heck down. You count every minute. Somehow, a story that is meant to be full of wonder becomes very, very boring – for anyone who’s older than 12, at least.
Kudos for the special effects and the general design (don’t miss it if you are a visual artist, you will enjoy it a lot and maybe even learn something) and hurray for the little living China doll. She looks so incredibly real and is dubbed by talented teen actress  Joey King.
Oz, The Great and Powerful:
Director: Sam Raimi
Writers: Mitchell Kapner (screenplay), David Lindsay-Abaire (screenplay)
Stars: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz

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