Oz The Great And Powerful
by Sam Raimi
A carnival magician is trying to scratch a living in Kansas, with a show that barely convinces anyone.
Oz (James Franco) is a bit of a serial womaniser, and his attempts with the ladies are meeting with
about as much success as his shoddy show. His true love, Annie (Michelle Williams), has come to tell
him she's about to marry someone else. But his heartbreaking antics have landed him in trouble, so
instead of trying to win Annie back he jumps in a balloon and escapes. But the balloon gets caught
up in a storm that takes him to Oz.
The land of Oz is saturated with colour, and everything there is bright and somewhat alien. Oz soon
finds out that they're expecting a wizard to arrive and fulfil a prophecy about ridding the land of a
wicked witch. The first person he meets, the witch Theodora (Mila Kunis), is convinced that he's the
wizard. Oz is too dishonest to put her right, so he goes along with the charade. In the Emerald City
he's dazzled by the wealth that could be his if he takes his place as the king. All he needs to do is kill
the wicked witch, and the throne will be his. But Theodora's sister, the witch Evanora (Rachel Weisz),
suspects that he isn't the wizard he claims to be. But he's not the only one hiding things. Just who is
this wicked witch, and why is she wreaking havoc with an army of flying baboons?
Like Dorothy, Oz gathers a number of strange companions as he travels up and down the yellow brick
road. It's a tame, family-friendly story where there are armies but no on-screen bloodshed or deaths.
The story is colourful in a very literal sense, but in terms of its humour and characters it's a bit
bland. Tony Cox is mildly amusing as the indignant palace official Knuck, and Bruce Campbell has a
slapstick cameo as a palace guard. Oz is selfish and thoughtless, although his flawed character is
fine because the story is all about him trying to redeem himself and become a man worthy of
people's faith in him. But a lot of the other characters are too one-dimensional to be interesting. This
is particularly true of the warring witches and the nice, hard-working ordinary people.
The film ends with some pleasing effects and decent misdirection, which you would expect since it's
about a wizard, and this is somewhat amusing. There are also some clues in this prequel that lay the
foundation for The Wizard of Oz
, so it's entertaining to spot these references, as well as the
references to the writer, L. Frank Baum. However I wouldn't call this movie great or powerful, merely
29th March 2013