“Oz the Great and Powerful” Movie Review
By: Mike Holtz, WeWatchedAMovie
Directed by: Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spiderman)
Starring: James Franco (127 Hours), Mila Kunis (The Black Swan), Rachel Weisz (The Mummy) and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
A Sam Raimi movie with Witches?!?!? Count us in!!!!
With the exception of The Gift in 2000 you could spot Sam Raimi’s work a mile away through both good movies (Drag me to Hell) and bad movies (Spiderman 3). He is simply the best there is in my opinion when it comes to a truly fun time at the theater. Take a dark/fun concept like the story of Oz the Great and Powerful, the (technically speaking) prequel to The Wizard of Oz and many would say its the perfect movie for him. Would they be right to make such a statement? Yes and no……..
We begin Oz in small screen/black and white format while we learn about the true beginnings of the soon to be “Wizard”. He’s a ladies man who rolls with a small town circus collecting whatever cash he can, using whatever optical illusion he can to make the small crowds believe in his magic. He’s more Con-man than Wizard however and soon enough a rather large man who’s lady had been swooned by Oz comes calling. Oz slips away into a hot air balloon and an awe inspiring 3D tornado whisks him away into the strange (In color) land of Oz. 3D is rarely better than what we witness as he arrives and explores a bit of Oz and the Emerald City with us. The depth, color and landscape makes for some great eye candy.
Oz meets Theodora (Kunis) upon his arrival in Oz who promptly lets him know that he simply must be the man prophesised to kill the Wicked Witch and save everyone in the land. The rest of Oz is about his journey from egotism and selfishness into the man the people (and creatures) Oz needed to save them from the Witch. Along the way he picks up some friends to help him in his journey like flying monkey Finley (Zach Braff) who creates some of the best laughs of the film and is a rare joy to watch be maneuvered in CGI. Not unlike China Girl (Joey King), a living and talking ceramic doll who’s home and family was destroyed by the evil Witch.
The CGI/Live Action blend works together seamlessly and Oz the Great and Powerful looks great in 3D and on the big screen. The Witch (despite looking oddly like Jim Carrey in The Mask) has a cool look to her skin and movements and sounds great. The entire cast works well with the characters they are given, especially Franco who plays weird and seedy yet trustworthy and likeable to perfection and all the minor roles were charming and well acted. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Oz at any point and sometimes it makes for a pretty fun ride. Its a well made, well acted film but it still felt like something was missing.
Amid all these great visuals and this supposedly epic story there was no surprise to be had and nothing there to blow any minds. There were a few moments (mainly involving the Witch herself) where you could feel that typical Raimi anything could happen next presence……..Oz just didn’t feel wild enough and played it a bit too safe. Not just for a Raimi film but also for a film that is a prequel to a movie like The Wizard of Oz…… I think we needed a bit more weird.
Oz the Great and Powerful is a movie worth seeing and definitely so at the theater and in 3D. It may not push the envelope but it is well made and well acted with a few nice moments and a lot of visual spectacle to gawk at. The script however lacks the emotion or vibrancy to make this film standout as much as it should have. If were going by Oz’s standards set for himself saying “I don’t want to be a good man, I want to be a great one”, than Oz the Great and Powerful falls somewhere in between. Well call it really good. 8.5/10