Friday, March 8, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful Movie Review

James Franco (l) and Zach Braff (as Finley the Flying Monkey) 

From our friends at DC Film Review...

Oz: I'm Your Wizard!

Sisters are doin’ it for themselves in Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful, a playful turn on the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. Buoyed by impressive 3D graphics and a stellar, most engaging cast, this latest Oz is good enough to develop its own cult following. Whether or not it becomes a once-a-year TV tradition like the original remains to be seen.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: Disney's fantastical adventure "Oz The Great and Powerful," directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum's beloved wizard character. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco,) a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he's hit the jackpot-fame and fortune are his for the taking-that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis,) Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams,) who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone's been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity-and even a bit of wizardry-Oscar transforms himself not only into the great wizard but into a better man as well. When small-time magician Oscar Diggs pulls one flimflam too many, he finds himself hurled into the fantastical Land of Oz where he must somehow transform himself into the great wizard-and just maybe into a better man as well.

What’s Best: Strong female leads carry Raimi’s Oz past its family film competition (Jack the Giant Slayer, etc.) Three cheers for three equally wonderful performances by Kunis, Weisz and Williams as decidedly different witches... each of who play perfectly against the slapstick Franco. It’s great to see not one, but three badass chicks carrying the physical side of things.

Franco may not be ready to replace Johnny Depp as the uncrowned king of quirky characters; but his casual levity is plenty appealing, and leaves room for others to shine. Meanwhile, CGI characters Finley the Flying Monkey (Zach Braff) and China Doll (Joey King) provide comic relief in fine fashion. Finley reminds me of a character you’d find in Shrek; while China Doll wastes no time after having her legs glued back on, ‘Let’s go kill ourselves a witch!’ Oz the Great and Powerful is filled with lots of spirit... Who doesn’t like that?

What’s Not: I wasn’t a fan of the film’s first 15-20 minutes, which are shot in B&W and occupy only a little more than half the screen. The transition to Oz could have been just as impressive, without sacrificing the opening sequence almost entirely.
You could also argue that the acting (specifically Franco’s) is a little too sophomoric at times... It’s a bit like watching a high school play, especially before Oscar/Oz meets up with Theodora and Finley.

Best Line: Oscar has lofty aspirations, ‘I want to be Harry Houdini and Thomas Edison all wrapped up into one.’ but when faced with death, settles for ‘Get me out of here, and I’ll do great things.’ I also enjoyed a child’s plea ‘Make me walk!’ that precedes Oscar’s escape to Oz. Talk about a demanding audience.

Overall: Oscar/Oz makes a most unlikely hero; but his devious nature helps facilitate a fast-moving, often funny film. Great for kids and adults, Oz proves great and powerful indeed. Not only should it breathe some much-needed life back into Hollywood’s box office... This is one fantasy adventure that actually deserves a sequel.

Grade: B