Friday, March 8, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful

Movie Name: Oz the Great and Powerful
Year of Release: 2013
Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Bill Cobbs, Joey King,  Tony Cox, Abigail Spencer, Bruce Campbell
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3

Director Sam Raimi is back, after tackling his "Spider Man" trilogy and the underrated "Drag me to Hell". "Oz the Great and Powerful" is a prequel to Victor Flemming's "The Wizard of Oz", the beloved classic which immortalized Judy Garland and the legendary yellow brick road. The film introduces the audience to Oscar, aka Oz, a small time magician in Kansas, who makes his living through rudimentary magic tricks and who uses his suave style to lure and seduce the ladies. Oscar is accidentally transported to Oz, the kingdom, when a hurricane hits Kansas. Upon there he meets Theodora, a young beautiful witch, who falls under his charms, and who believes Oscar to be the legendary Wizard who is destined to save the kingdom from the wicked witch. Oscar is sent out to the dark forest to battle the villain, but ends up meeting the beautiful and gentle Glinda, who explains who the real evil forces are. It's up to Oscar to acknowledge his inner worth, and save the entire kingdom.
Sam Raimi's take on the legendary world of Oz, owes more to the vision that Tim Burton set forth in his "Alice in Wonderland", but it does build some aesthetic bridges to the Victor Flemming classic. The film's main issues end up being related to the characters and story development. The film is filled with clich├ęs, from the main anti-hero (the con man with a heart of gold), to the trio of witches, who are of course completely paper thin in terms of character development. The sidekicks for the main hero, namely the cute monkey and the chinadoll girl, though beautifully rendered, remain lifeless just like it's main hero. James Franco simply does not work in the main role - he does not embody the whole larger than life persona of the con man, and without a strong lead, the film lacks spark and emotion. The wicked witch also feels trapped and does not have much to do - this film needed a villain with a bigger bite, and sadly that never occurs. On a positive note, Peter Deming's cinematography and Danny Elfman's score are both wonderful. A misfire from Sam Raimi.