Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

This is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz that we all know so well. Much like that movie, which stunned audiences when the beginning was black and white, and it changed to color once Dorothy hit Oz, this movie employs the same technique. The problem is that audiences at the time were used to going to see movies in the theater that were black and white, so the switch made a deep impact on the audience. Nowadays, not so much.

Sam Raimi has had a mixed past when directing movies:

  • The Evil Dead - Not so good.
  • Crimewave - Never saw it.
  • Evil Dead II - Pretty bad.
  • Darkman - Very bad.
  • Army of Darkness - Excellent.
  • The Quick and the Dead - Moderately good.
  • A Simple Plan - Never saw it.
  • For Love of the Game - Not great.
  • The Gift - Never saw it.
  • Spider-Man - Very good.
  • Spider-Man 2 - Not as good, but okay.
  • Spider-Man 3 - Pretty bad.
  • Drag Me to Hell - Not so good.

This movie has the feel of a Tim Burton movie right from the start. Once they get to Oz, that feeling is only magnified. The feel of Oz is supposed to be unreal compared to the dullness of Kansas, but it feels more unreal than the original mostly because it IS unreal; everything is CG (and not great CG). Things aren't helped by James Franco. I've seen him put in good performances, but in this one he just mugs for the camera most of the time or overacts in general.

It's hard to pull off a convincing CG character. This is especially true of characters who are nearly constantly in frame like an animated flying monkey sidekick. The actors have to try to interact with something that isn't actually there, so their acting is not correctly timed or aimed a little off or something similar. If only there were some way to have a kind of special effect that was not computer generated... Nope, I can't think of anything. Nothing at all.

The plot details are annoying. You have your heavy-handed parallels between Oz and the real world as well as forced homage to the original movie. But, it is at this time that I figure out what I'm missing. This isn't a movie for me to sit back and appreciate the complexities of. It's a movie that is intended to be watched with the wide-eyed wonder of the same child-like innocence that would enjoy The Wizard of Oz without being either high or forced to watch it.

It got better as it went on, and the witches played by Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz were pretty good. Mila goes a little over the top, but if you take into account the target audience being quite a bit younger than me, she pretty much hits it where it needs to go.

2.0/5

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