Review: Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
I’ve never been a huge fan of the original 1939 film, regardless of the classic status it has been earning since its conception. And here we are now: it’s been 70-plus years and finally we all are now back to the wonderful, magical land of Oz. A land so wickedly beautiful and ridiculously colorful one could mistake it as the origin of Katy Perry.
‘Oz: The Great and Powerful‘ serves as a prequel to the event in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ as this was the origin story of how the land of Oz was named after, well, Oz. The name Oz itself was actually a stage name of small-time magician and big-time playboy (real name Oscar Diggs) which was portrayed by James Franco. Oscar had a trick or two up his sleeves and yet his magic show wasn’t that much of a success. His all-flamboyant persona apparently has gotten himself into trouble more than he could handle, and this led to his having to escape from his pursuer – the circus strongman whose wife had fallen victim to Oscar’s playboy charm – on a hot air balloon. If you have watched the 1939 film, you will know what happens next: the hot air balloon was sucked into some sort of giant tornado and magically transported Oscar into a land nobody has ever landed on before.
At first he thought that he actually has died and that was heaven he was in. Until he met Mila Kunis dressed up all-red and all-witchy (which probably would invade every guy’s wildest dream from this point forward) and introduced herself as Theodora. The couple shared a thing or two during their brief meeting and Theodora told Oz that he is actually the Messiah to the one problem the beautiful land has had since quite some time, which is The Wicked Witch. Later on Oz met his companion, the Abu to his Aladdin: a two-winged monkey called Finlay. Only with Finlay Oz is being honest about the fact that he was actually not the prophecied wizard Theodora had believed him to be, and he asked Finlay to play it along. From this point, one can’t help but wonder if Oz himself had started to believe his own facade or not. Theodora introduced Oz to her older sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) who lived in the castle in Emerald City. Evanora pointed out that the Evil Witch (Michelle Williams) resides in the Dark Forest and it was Oz’ duty to kill her once and for all by breaking her wand, in order to prove himself as the prophecied wizard. I won’t get much deeper into the story but expect what to be expected from a Disney movie: a real happy ending.
Franco himself didn’t disappoint as the titular character. He managed to carefully carry his character into that ‘from hero to zero’ transition tunnel – an achievement I never knew he could do so well. The witches, are brilliant as well and they successfully impersonated each character’s distinguished trait as it was really important that they do not overlap one another. For instance, Theodora was the all-innocent and rookie witch compared to Weisz’ deceitful and mature persona. The major downside perhaps was Finlay, who was actually more of a comic relief character rather than a helpful companion, whose sole purpose was merely to keep the audience laughed in a regular basis.
Raimi has always had a thing with bringing his characters – along with the audience – into a whole new world. Remember that very moment when Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker in ‘Spider-Man’ found out he has this ability to shoot out spider web from his arm? The exact same feeling the first time James Franco’s character entered the blissful and glitzy world. The film started out as a black-and-white film with the respective ratio of 4:3 and when Oz arrived, the screen are ”magically’ widened and colored – this served as both a tribute to the original film and a mean for Raimi to welcome his audience to his world of amazement and wonder.
The real winner here was in fact, the 3D. ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ is one of those movies which are definitely best seen with 3D glasses on. Many of today’s Hollywood-produced films over-promised and under-delivered when it comes to 3D viewing. There are very few films that are worth the extra charge of a 3D viewing but trust me on this: ‘Oz’ is worth your every single dollar. The hot air balloon trip was one among many scenes in ‘Oz’ which will cast doubt in 3D naysayers – there are plenty of ‘Ow!’ and ‘Whoaaa!’ to be expected during that particular scene. Oh, and wait until you ‘experience’ the scene of Oz on his ride falling down the waterfall.
To say the least, ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ is basically a wonderful trip back to Oz best seen in 3D. Regardless of how old you are, you will find yourself laugh more than you could have imagine, and leaving the theatre feeling satisfied. This was in fact a child’s movie but who said that adults won’t be having a good time with it? Highly recommended and definitely much better than that ‘Jack’ movie, since both targeted the exact same audience.