<Review by: Daylynn DeSouza>
Directed by Sam Raimi. Starring Rachel Weisz, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Zach Braff, Michelle Williams
While the film does have its flaws (mainly on the technical side), there’s no denying that the story is magical. It manages to excite, awe, thrill and shock you while simultaneously tugging at your heartstrings. It’s a film for all ages and for the most part is visually appealing. It’s safe to say that you will enjoy Oz The Great and Powerful and you will come to fall in love with the Land of Oz once again.
Stories from the Land of Oz have enthralled and entertained us since the year 1900, with at least 40 books, a dozen movies and stage plays, even one currently running on Broadway and the West End called Wicked, which tells us a story from the Wicked Witch of the West’s point of view. Some of you may have even enjoyed the 1939 film adaptation while listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and enjoying a herbal cigarette.
The protagonist of this story is none other than the wizard of Oz (James Franco) himself, who is a magician at a traveling circus in Kansas. Business is slow, he has no friends and as a con man magician he deems himself unworthy to marry the woman he loves. How could things get worse? For starters, one of the women he’s conned happens to be dating the resident strongman at the circus who’s determined to break Oz in two. Oz manages to escape him by getting into a hot air balloon but as fate would have it, he ends up getting sucked up into a twister and transported to the magical Land of Oz.
There, he meets Theodora (Mila Kunis) the Good Witch who is convinced that he is the Great Wizard of Prophecy that will restore balance to Oz and take his place as King of Oz with her as his Queen. While traveling to the Emerald city with Theodora, Oz rescues a Flying Monkey from being eaten by a lion by scaring it away with some prestidigitation.
Upon his arrival in Oz and after a meeting with Theodora’s sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) Oz learns that before he can rise to the throne and claim all the gold in the Treasury of Oz, he must first kill a Wicked Witch that’s terrorising Oz, by snapping her wand in half.
With sidekick Finley (Zach Braff) by his side Oz sets off to accomplish the task to befriend a little girl (voiced by Joey King) from China Town.
With the help of Finely and China Girl, Oz must restore balance to Oz by defeating the Wicked Witch. It’s that easy, except things are not as they seem in the Land of Oz and Oz must figure out which Witch is which and save the Land of Oz from the true Wicked Witch. This is quite a fun little twist as we get to see how the Wicked Witch of the West came to be.
I’d divulge more detail but that would spoil the rest of the movie for you so I’ll leave you with this… With the help of one Good Witch, a few Tinkers and Munchkins, Oz must face Wickedness and restore balance to the Land of Oz, all the while making his own journey from a Great Man to a Good Man with nothing but his friends, his wits and cons and eventually becoming the Wizard of Oz. It is indeed a fun journey and one that you must undertake.
Alas, the Technical aspects of this film have a few glitches that break the magic of the story for a few brief seconds. There’s a scene in the movie where Oz and Theodora are walking down the Yellow Brick Road and talking where the actors are clearly in front of a green screen and it’s blatantly obvious, even to the untrained eye. There’s also quite a bit of obvious wire work that feels like it belongs back in the late 30s even though the 1939 movie didn’t have as much wire work as this movie. If you can get past that, the rest of the movie is visually stunning and the 3D doesn’t take away from it at all. Nor does it add to it.
All the actors do fairly well and James Franco was a good choice for the con-man magician turned Wizard. Mila Kunis is spectacular in her role and even managed to send chills down my spin at times. And the transformation the screen goes through from black and white 4:3 aspect ratio to a lovely coloured 16:9 aspect ratio when Oz first reaches Oz is nice too.
So click your heels together and say, “There’s no place like the theater.”