Created on: March 04, 2013 Last Updated: March 05, 2013
Director Sam Raimi has to be one of the bravest directors in modern cinema. Yes he has been at the helm of blockbusters such as ‘The Gift’ and ‘Spider-Man’ but when he agreed to direct ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’ he made a very brave decision, as technically he is ‘tampering’ with a legend associated with a cinematic classic, ‘The Wizard Of Oz’... and that means he is about to be praised in the highest order or be criticized harshly.
To his credit Raimi has done a passable job and delivered a film that can be enjoyed by people of all ages although very young children may be afraid of some scenes.
A prequel to the 1939 classic ‘The Wizard Of Oz’, ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’ begins with Oscar Diggs (James Franco) as a womanizing poor impersonation of a magician who is so wrapped up in his own lifestyle that he can’t even commit to the love of his life Annie (Michelle Williams) even if that means seeing her walk down the aisle with another man.
When a freak accident involving a hot air balloon and a tornado occurs Oscar suddenly finds himself in a strange new land where he meets witch sisters Theodora (Mila Kunis) and Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and despite his promises he can’t help but continue on his womanizing ways.
Declaring him as the Wizard and their savior, the two witches send Oscar along with his winged-monkey sidekick Finley (Zach Braff) to destroy the supposed wicked witch Glinda (Michelle Williams). Along the way he meets a young broken China Girl (Joey King) whom he helps, however when he arrives at his destination he begins flirting with Glinda which causes all hell to break out with Theodora and Evanora meaning that nobodies lives are safe.
To create the land of Oz for modern cinema goers Raimi uses part of the story developed for ‘Wicked’ (understandable enough) but also seems to bring in elements of ‘Pinocchio’ and ‘Avatar’ while resting on the skills of the film producers to re-create the look they previously developed for Tim Burton’s version of ‘Alice In Wonderland’.
The script provides an entertaining storyline that is a worthy prequel to the original however the film does dip a little in the mid-section of the film and sadly on reflection doesn’t seem to give poor James Franco much to do except just smile and keep on his flirty ways. If he was looking for a role with a little bit of bite, than he certainly didn’t get what he wanted.
As a result Franco’s performance is a little below par, especially when you compare his work here to the brilliant ‘127 Hours’, but the film is still lifted by some great performances by Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz who seem to travel back in time and produce the delightful acting, the beauty and grace of the leading ladies that used to light up cinema screens during the 1940s and 1950s. Their performances are enough to remind all cinema lovers just how magical a trip to the theater really can be.
‘Oz The Great And Powerful’ is proof that sometimes ‘tampering’ with a film classic can result in a pretty good film. If you enjoyed the original then you should certainly line up for ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’ as it is certainly worth a look.
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