Name brands have marquee value. Most people don’t want to invest in something if it’s unproven; whether it’s from a production or consuming standpoint. I suppose that why we’re inundated with so many prequels, sequels, side stories, untold stories, etc. It’s only a matter of time before your favorite movie is remade, if it hasn’t been already (or wasn’t already a remake). I am dreading the day they get to Back to the Future. At least with The Wizard of Oz, most people who would care are dead. This last weekend saw the release of Oz the Great and Powerful.
Directed by Sam Raimi (of Evil Dead and Spider-man fame), staring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and some other people, we see how the wizard Oz and to power. For me, knowing The Wizard of Oz fairly well, once we were introduced to all the characters, I knew where the story was going.
We see Oz as a circus magician (more of a conman and flirt really) in a black and white Kansas. Right way, we know the characters here will play different parts in Oz, and since the wizard never returns, we won’t see them again. An old flame named Annie comes to see Oz. She informs him that she’s to wed Bob Gale. I’m assuming these are Dorothy’s parents as her aunt and uncle were Em and Henry. For reasons not worth repeating, he gets into a hot air balloon before a tornado comes, whisking him to the colorful world of green screen… I mean Oz. The rest of the movie is set against a green screen. Some of the effects look convincing (particularly in the finally), but not so much in act 2. Whenever the camera panned back to show the environment, the characters became poorly animated themselves.
Once he meets Mila Kunis (Theodora), who’s a witch, and has a sister (Evanora – Rachel Weisz). She told him the prophecy of the wizard, and falls in love with him. The evil witch Glinda poisoned her own father, the king, to try and take the throne. At about this point I figured out the rest of the movie. Evanora was the real wicked witch, Theodora was tricked, and Glinda was a scapegoat. The good witch who helped Dorothy was named Glinda, and there needed to be two wicked witches for Dorothy to kill (meaning everyone lived). The only question for me was, how did Theodora change?
Once Oz met Evanora, she immediately began flirting with him, making the fall plain to see. In act 2, while Oz is questing, Evanora tells her sister that he came on to her, breaking Theodora’s heart. In a very Grimhilde esque way (Snow White), Evanora has her sister eat an apple. As she eats it, she realizes her sister, Evanora, was the wicked one. This rots her heart, turning her to the Wicked Witch of the West. Kunis’ performance as the Wicked Witch is questionable, because for the rest of the movie she runs around screaming (no hyperbole). The movie ends exactly how you think it would, setting the stage for Dorothy’s arrival decades later.
Was this a bad movie? No. Worth paying money for? Not really. The “this was obviously for 3D” moments were annoying, but few and far between. They’ve already announced a sequel, The Wizard of Oz, based off the original Frank L. Baum book, as it’s public domain. That means the created for the movie ruby slippers from the MGM version will not be included.
What did you think of Oz the Great and Powerful? Was I pretty accurate or off the mark? Did my review sway your opinion either way? Comment or tweet to let me know!
Judy Garland’s real name is Frances Ethel Gumm.