Oz the (Not so) Great and Powerful

19 Mar

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Everyone knows the original 1939 classic film, The Wizard of Oz which featured the story of Dorothy and her adventure through the land of Oz, and of course, Wicked, the popular Broadway play which detailed more of the witch’s story. Now it’s time for the wizard himself to get a backstory in the new movie directed by horror auteur Sam Raimi.

The film stars James Franco as the titular Oz whose real name is Oscar Diggs as a greedy con artist magician of a traveling circus who wants to become a great man and be remembered throughout history. After a botched performance Oscar’s playboy antics get him into trouble with the circus’ strong man. Oz attempts to escape in a hot air balloon only to be caught up in a tornado that transports him to the Land of Oz akin to that of the original film. There Oscar meets up with Theodora, played by Mila Kunis, who tells him that he is to fulfill a prophecy in which he will vanquish the evil witch Glinda, Michelle Williams, and bring about peace and become the new King of Oz which would also entitle him to the vast riches of the kingdom. Along his journey he meets with several companions including a flying monkey, played by Zach Braff and an animated china doll.

This film in its entirety is one of the more sloppy productions to come out of Hollywood and can’t be bothered with explaining certain things like character motivation, plot details, or even a solid direction. For instance the reactions and character arc of Theodora, who is either fish memory stupid or blind, can’t tell that Glinda is a good witch or that it’s her sister who controls the flying baboons causing havoc across the land doesn’t make any sense.  

This isn’t surprising given that the director, Sam Raimi, is more of a spectacle director and is good at conveying horror or adapting a pre-existing story like the Spiderman films. Here however his talents seem wasted or phoned in the very least and what is an interesting idea quickly becomes a mess on the screen in terms of bad acting and distracting visuals.

The casting doesn’t make much sense either as different lead actors go through the movie in character types that are not fitted with their acting styles at all such as James Franco being portrayed as a lovable scamp comes off as a terrible and unlikable person until the end. Not that it’s their fault since the actors seem to be just as lost in the confusing plot as the audience.  This film try’s to make a solid coherent story but fails as it goes in different directions trying too hard or too little to gain audience reaction. Confusing plot holes also distract and leave the audience whiplashed into who to actually root for until halfway throughout the two hour long film.

That’s not to say the movie is all bad as it has some genuinely funny and heartfelt moments unintentional or not and isn’t ugly by any stretch. But problems still prevail since 90 percent of the film is shot in front of a green screen making the sets look faker than a Pixar movie.  Certain hand held props and costumes also look obviously touched up in post-production.

At its base the film is extremely paint-by-numbers and is filled to the brim of tropes that viewers have seen a million times in other films. The liar reveal cliché, the band together at the end cliché, and probably the worst offense is the turn evil for trivial reasons trope.  It won’t impress any critic and fans of the practical effects of the original should stay away, but it serves its purpose as a backstory and a pretty pacifier.   

Two Thumbs Down.

This has, is, and always will be my opinion.

Thanks and see ya later!

DBSLAYER7

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