Oz The Great and Powerful
I have a certain love-hate relationship with reboots, prequels, and sequels. Especially those that come about at least twenty years after the original. Yes it introduces new generations to characters, stories, and movies but more often than not, the remakes are not nearly as good as the originals. Many times most of the younger audience had never seen the original beforehand and if they do they automatically call it boring because the special effects aren’t as impressive or it drags too long or something. Anything to not admit that something that came around long before them could be as good or entertaining. But when a prequel is released 82 years after the original…
that’s bound to reunite several generations. “Oz The Great and Powerful” is the story of how the wizard of Oz got there in the first place. Oscar (known to everyone as Oz) is a con-man/not-so-impressive magician with a traveling carnival in rural Kansas. When an angry audience turns into an angry mob, he escapes a beating by getting away in a hot air balloon and it just so happens as he gets away and gets caught in a tornado. This movie actually does have many clever winks and references to the original.
When Oz wakes up, he is certainly not in Kansas anymore and meets a beautiful witch named Theodora. She tells the story of how he is in the land of his namesake and of a prophecy saying that one day great and powerful wizard with the same name as the land will kill the evil witch and bring peace forever on the land. Obviously apprehensive to say the least, Oz (the man) still plays along because of the beauty and charm Theodora has and she in kind, falls for his charms.
James Franco (Oz) and Mila Kunis (Theodora) share as much chemistry as if they were each other’s blind dates to the prom. Cute but not really giving off any emotional connection. The rest of the supporting cast however does show promise, especially Zach Braff (Finley) who is a much better actor than I gave him credit for from his days as Dr. Dorian. Also in the cast is Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Joey King, and Bill Cobbs.
Visually the film is gorgeous with sets and scenery that remind me a lot of “Big Fish” or “Edward Scissorhands.” That is, very Tim Burton-esque. Fortunately unlike most Burton films that treats the concept of story and script as an afterthought, “Oz The Great and Powerful” really is a very good script/story. The problem is that they didn’t find the best cast for it. Composer Danny Elfman (who also works a lot with Burton) did put together a beautiful musical score that brought out a sense of wonderment, mystery, and suspense as the scenes called for. I saw the movie in IMAX 3D which is the first movie I see in IMAX in years… for the sake of visuals, I guess it was worth it, but many of the main cast left me feeling disconnected. So obviously the original from 82 years ago is better.