My Thoughts on Oz the Great and Powerful

OztheGreatandPowerfulThis review contains plot details, which may be considered SPOILERS. Sam Raimi returns with his first film in four years, which is a prequel to the classic story The Wizard of Oz.  In the film, James Franco plays Oscar “Oz” Diggs, a magician who performs in a travelling carnival.  He is unhappy with his meagre existence and has aspirations for greatness.  While riding away from the carnival in a hot air balloon, a tornado arrives in Kansas and carries Oscar away to the land of Oz.  There he meets three witches – Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and Glinda (Michelle Williams) – all of whom believe Oscar to be the Wizard prophesized to save Oz and become king.  During his adventures, Oscar becomes acquainted with a large variety of characters, including Finley the Flying Monkey (Zach Braff) and an orphaned China Girl (Joey King). I will start off by saying that, while the film is not flawless, I very much enjoyed Oz the Great and Powerful.  At first glance, James Franco is probably not the most appropriate casting choice for the lead role.  He has become known for a certain type of screen persona and his performance as Oscar comes off as a bit goofy.  However, I think that Franco’s performance works, especially if you decide not to take the film too seriously and don’t try to compare it to the classic 1939 film. Speaking of which, this film does suffer from some “prequelitis”, since knowledge of The Wizard of Oz will make you aware of some of the plot developments.  Specifically, those familiar with the original story would know that only Glinda is the truly good witch in Oz.  The trailers for the film already revealed that Evanora is a wicked witch, despite the fact that she pretended to be good early on in the film.  However, the marketing tried to hide the fact that Theodora gets the “Anakin Skywalker Treatment” – i.e. the former good witch is corrupted to the dark side by her sister and becomes the green skinned Wicked Witch of the West, who is probably even more evil than her sister.  As iconic a character The Wicked Witch of the West is, the way she looks is probably my biggest gripe about the film.  The fake nose and green make-up just doesn’t look right on Mina Kunis.  Also, her voice doesn’t really match the look and it was a bit distracting. As for the actual story, while the film doesn’t have the most original plot in the world, I found myself having a good time with the film.  Despite making a family-friendly Disney film, Sam Raimi has added a few personal touches to the film, which hearkens back to his horror days.  I was also the fan of the film’s old-style opening, which was shown in black and white with a 4:3 (square) aspect ratio.  Also, keep an eye out for the obligatory cameo by a certain Bruce Campbell, who is quite hard to miss, despite the layers of make-up he is wearing. Overall, while it was probably not necessary to make a prequel story to The Wizard of Oz, under the guidance of Sam Raimi, I found Oz the Great and Powerful to be a highly enjoyable fantasy adventure.  9 | REALLY LIKED IT