Science fiction and fantasy                                            

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 okay.

29th March 2013

Film Details

Year: 2013

Categories: Films

  Kids     Fantasy

Classification: PG

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3 star rating

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