So, I just saw the new Oz movie today. I’m going to do my best to make this review spoiler-free. I’ll also let it be known that I went into this movie having only seen the original “Wizard of Oz” film from the 1930’s and bits and pieces of its sequel “Return to Oz,” so anyone expecting me to base this around the books or other Oz material will be disappointed. That said, let’s dive into this thing.
For those who don’t already know, the film stars James Franco as the Wizard himself and details his journey from a simple magician to grand wizard of Oz, set many years before Dorothy ever stepped foot in Oz. The film is directed by Sam Raimi, well known for the Evil Dead and Spider-Man trilogies. The score is done by Danny Elfman of practically every Tim Burton movie ever made fame.
To start off, the visuals. Much like Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland, the world of Oz and a couple of characters are done pretty much in CG animation. I felt that the world was bright and colorful and represented Oz well. I will admit, it was also one of those movies where there were quite a few moments that I knew I was looking at a CG backdrop. It didn’t take me completely out of the film, but it was a bit distracting.
The story is pretty basic, but as an origin story for the Wizard it was serviceable. One thing I kinda disliked was that each female lead (aka the witches) had almost an instant attraction to him, but like the CG I found it a minor distraction. The writing felt sharp and funny at times and screamed of the old Raimi wit that shows up in his films. I enjoyed the writing on some of the supporting characters because of this.
Now, the acting. I’ll admit, I tend to be a horrible judge at whether an actor is good or bad unless it’s extremely obvious. In the case of this movie, I felt like some people were having more fun than others. In my opinion, James Franco (Oz), Rachel Weisz (Evanora), and a couple of those supporting characters. They just seemed like they were having a good time and tried to do the best with the material given to them. The Wizard character comes off frankly as a douche for the majority of the film, but while his arc into becoming the wizard hit a few cliches, I enjoyed Franco’s performance as him. I felt that the blandest performance was from Mila Kunis (Theodora), mainly because I didn’t find her character overly interesting through the majority of the film. Part of that could’ve been the writing, part of it could’ve been Kunis’s portrayal, I’m not really sure. I just didn’t find myself caring for her or what she goes through.
All that said, I can see why people have had mixed reactions for this movie. I know it’s supposed to be based on the books, which like I said I haven’t read and therefore have no frame of context. For all I know, you may find it disappointing or enjoyable based on that merit. For me, I liked it. I just didn’t LOVE it. I went in with relatively low expectations and found it enjoyable, but it’s a movie that didn’t scream “Great!” to me. While I don’t think I’ll want to see it again, I don’t feel like my time was wasted either.
My rating for “Oz The Great and Powerful” is a 7/10. It was a fun, eye candy-filled ride while it lasted.