Ror Reviews: OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL 3D
Reviews have been mixed, but there seems to be a pretty positive buzz around Sam Raimi's take on the Wizard Of OZ prequel here on CBM. Should you follow the yellow brick road or jump that balloon back to Kansas? Click for my take..
I really don't like reviewing movies like Oz: The Great And Powerful. When I love a film it's a pleasure to praise it, and when I hate a movie - although I never WANT a movie to be bad - it's great fun to rip it apart. But when it's just...good?
OZ IS good. It's entertaining, it's engrossing (to a point) and you have only to look at any of the trailers to know you're going to be in for serious eye-gasms. The performances range from passable to very good. On the lower end of the spectrum is the usually excellent Michelle Willaims, who makes for a bland, forgettable Glinda, and most disappointingly James Franco as Oz himself. Franco is always hit and miss with me, and while he isn't bad in the lead role he doesn't do enough to make us root for him as our protagonist. I mean the character is supposed to be a prick, but a semi-likable prick with the capacity for good - and he just doesn't put that across. Mila Kunis is great value as the shrieking nightmare of a Wicked Witch (c'mon, is this still a secret to anyone?) and bound to put the frighteners on the younger kids in the audience. As her even wickeder sister the stunning Rachel Weisz actually serves as the main baddie this time around and does a fine job of it, lack of screen-time not withstanding.
Most surprisingly it's actually the non human characters that make the biggest impression. Usually in these type of movies you dread the annoying, cute, comic relief sidekicks but here they work brilliantly. Finlay the Monkey, voiced by Scrubs actor Zack Braff, is so effective that you actually miss him when he's not around - has anyone ever said about Jar Jar for example? And the little China Girl (Joey King) tugs at the heart strings - a good thing too because quite frankly, it's hard to give a crap about most of the other characters!
As I mentioned, the film looks incredible and when we're taking our tour through OZ in - very nice I must say - 3D the movie is at its best. I love Sam Raimi's style even when his movies themselves aren't always top notch, and he manages to throw in a few of his trademark flourishes here - wait until you see the demonic flower POV attack. Yeah, you heard.
So what's the big problem? Well it's the story - or rather how the story unfolds. I have never read the books on which this is based, and it may very well be a faithful adaptation but with absolutely no surprises a movie like this begins to drag, and feel about half and hr longer than it actually is. There are also a few bizarre plot details that go unexplained (the apple makes her..green..and evil..cos..huh?) and by the time Oz has his inevitable change of heart, they've even chucked in the obligatory chained up damsel-in-distress (a very powerful witch who's greatest achievement seems to be conjuring fog).
Recommended - if only for the visual spectacle and Mila Kunis, but there are other elements to be enjoyed. Just don't go in expecting to be completely engaged and you'll have a good enough time.
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