After many decades, the mystical land of Oz returns to the silver screen, but it ain’t the Oz that you grew up with, friends – it’s a unofficial love child of Tim Burton and Sam Raimi.
Oz is a carnival magician and master of deception, but when his folly catches up with him in Kansas, he finds himself on the run straight into a violent tornado. Swept into the colourful world of Oz, the newly transported charlatan is propelled into a prophecy fueled adventure that’ll test his wit and cunning in an attempt to destroy the wicked witch.
Not really for viewers looking for more of the Dorothy story – aside from title, this fantasy flick shares very little with the original classic. That said, fans of the recent Alice in Wonderland adaptation/remake will find many similarities and should walk away pleased.
The Bottom Line
Watching the trailers for Oz, I was convinced that the film wouldn’t touch base on any of what made the original film so special, instead opting to become an Alice in Wonderland reprisal (given Tim Burton’s presence as producer); thankfully my predictions weren’t 100% accurate.
Let it be known that outside of some familiar characters and settings, Oz: The Great and Powerful shares very little in common with the 1939 film or it’s spirit. Oz is a typical Hollywood CGI adventure, but it’s got that Sam Raimi touch which ensures that the film maintains a consistent level of entertainment. However, the pulling from Burton and Disney is evident and the film feels tampered with and lacking in ambition from a storytelling point of view.
My biggest gripe – as is the case with many films of this nature – is that the film can be a little generic. The characters are acted well enough but more often than not feel like they’re just on autopilot and the visuals don’t set themselves apart at all. I found James Franco’s performance as the main protagonist to be a little on the safe side – he pulls off the underhanded Oz character well but I can’t help feeling that he could have put more depth into the role. As a 3-D experience, all the gripes are good enough to make the film enjoyable, just not memorable at all.
The fact that Oz is conventional doesn’t call its function as a form of entertainment into question – the film is frequently fun and the final act is certainly the highlight…but the film is missing that quirky Wizard of Oz charm and for that, Oz: The Great and Powerful is destined to live in the shadow of it’s older brother.