3.08.2013

Oz the Great and Powerful | Movie Review

Oz the Great and Powerful  PG-13
Released: 8 March 2013
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Screenplay by: Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire, 
Starring: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis
Based on: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
A small-time magician arrives in an enchanted land and is forced to decide if he will be a good man or a great one.  (synopsis link)

Oz the Great and Powerful started out fabulously, with everything black-and-white, and James Franco (playing the wizard Oz) setting up his status as a womanizing carnival magician. There were funny jokes tossed around, and a playful use of dramatic, though well-trodden, character interactions.

And then Oz found himself in the land of Oz.

You've probably seen or read The Wizard of Oz, so I won't explain the tornado = Oz formula, but he finds himself in a land with a fascinating full spectrum of colors. We are given an extended view of the wonderful and outlandish plants and ecosystem this land has to offer, showing off what I assume to be some very expensive CGI work...which is the exact point I began to lose interest. Quickly.

In just the first few minutes of being in Oz, I was dumbfounded by the overall artificial look of the entire thing. There are a certain amount of things one has to accept when watching watching a fantastical movie. It's a given that the tornado that sweeps a character away to another land is fake, and that the so far unknown plants one is seeing in this new world are fake as well. But we accept them as part of the reality of this world, and therefore accept them as truth. Not possible in this case. There was so much processing that neither the land, the animals, nor the people looked remotely realistic. There were times that it seemed as if I was suddenly watching an animated film--which pulled me out of the story every time, to wonder how someone could think such a thing looked anything but artificial.

The appearance of the first inhabitant of Oz offers no relief. Mila Kunis (Theodora) is a drop-dead gorgeous woman, yet the processing that was done to give her some sort of "flawless" look, even made her seem unreal. The reason behind this is made clear when later events occur, but I was still left with the sense that it was all just way too much. Like it was compensating for something. Which leads very nicely into my next point: the story.

As for the actual story, I'm not sure I could count all of the jokes, awkward moments, strange pauses, prophecies, and unnecessary dramatic flourishes that are used instead of a solid plot. It was as if the idea was to throw as many cliche moments into the movie as possible, add a joke or two while they were happening, and call it entertainment. No need for explaining or development of characters. Just accept this pretty visual, and shut up. And don't forget about the womanizing; that plays a big part in the outcome, and we're expected to cheer as it happens.

These normally very talented actors and actresses ultimately fall flat, due to strange dialogue and those awkward moments I mentioned. I was honestly waiting for one of the characters to gasp, bite her first, and run away crying and/or faint (okay, a bit harsh, but you see what I'm getting at). Though I have to give kudos to Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz for delivering some of the stranger dialogue in ways that flattered their characters.

While there was a lot I didn't like, I do admit to a few things the movie did very well. Oz's (the magician's) journey to becoming the wizard is played out fairly convincingly in the end. I did enjoy the conclusion to his story, especially the reasoning behind his appearance in TWoO. The best part of the entire movie was the wicked witch's actual transition into the wicked witch we know and love--and her subsequent actions.

I'm normally easy to please when it comes to movies. But even with an awesome wicked witch, and an acceptable ending, this is definitely not a movie I could recommend.


Book-to-Movie

I'm counting this in the book-to-movie category, since it's a prequel based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I can't say I have read the book myself, but I have seen the various movie versions, and know the general story line.

Judging from that, everything is set up very nicely for the events in The Wizard of Oz. Having the reasons behind certain elements such as why the scarecrow was left, how the lion lost his courage, or why the great and powerful Oz is a giant floating head, creates the perfect connection to The Wizard of Oz.


Temp. Guide
Watch this if:
...you're not distracted by things like bad CGI, and you're brave...very brave.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Highlight between the brackets to reveal the text.
{Violence, kissing (ooh, la la!), and some pretty scary scenes that may be a bit too scary for young children.}



Oz the Great and Powerful on  
Goodreads  |  IMDB

7 comments:

  1. Ewww sounds like a rental at best. Thanks for your honest review. I saw you tweet about this and am glad you elaborated. :) Happy weekend!

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  2. I want to see this bad but my husband thinks CGI is a bad word so I probably will have to wait on it which I'm guessing is okay since you don't seem to be too sold on it. Always better to go into it with better expectations

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  3. I really liked this movie myself. I thought it was wonderful in 3D ... and then sense of humor was totally up my alley. But I am a big movie buff so I always check the reviews and I have noticed that the reviews on this movie are all of the spectrum!

    Angie

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  4. The CGI looking fake is really sad. We have better technology than that! I wonder if they were going for the fake world look though. I'm was wanting to see this, but now I might be able to wait for it.

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  5. Good to know. I wondered how well this would turn out.
    Ann

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  6. Ahh this is disappointing to hear. I think I'm more curious than before though. I really want to see the outlandish animals and plants and such.

    ReplyDelete

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