My regular readers know I'm an Oz fiend, so of course I dragged DH and GK to see Oz: The Great and Powerful this weekend.
Nothing's going to live up to the 1939 MGM musical, so if you go in with that expectation, you will be sorely disappointed. However, I thought it was a wonderful blending of the backstory of L. Frank Baum's Oz series and an homage to the Judy Garland musical.
1) Sam Raimi and his writers use a variation of the original backstory. After the murder of King Pastoria of Oz, his daughter and heir disappears, and the land dissolves into civil war. (The new movie doesn't mention him by name.) Instead of the original eight witches involved, O:TGAP only has the three that were mentioned in the MGM classic. And they make Glinda Patoria's daughter instead of Ozma.
2) The movie begins in black and white and fades to color when Oscar enters Oz as a salute to its predecessor.
3) Glinda is restored as the Witch of the South, aka Quadling Country. (Sorry, but the melding of the witches of the North and South into one character always pissed me off about the 1939 version.)
4) The China Village, which appears in the book but was cut from the MGM movie, provides a pivotal plot point.
5) The Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow have cameos!
6) BEST OF ALL: Rather than channeling Margaret Hamilton or Idina Menzel, Mila Kunis does an incredible job of spinning her own unique version of my favorite witch. She makes her sexy, sympathetic and tragic in one fell swoop.
1) I understand the setting up of certain characters in Kansas with their counterparts in Oz just like in the MGM version. For Dorothy, it's a dream so the counterparts make sense. BUT OSCAR NEVER RETURNS TO KANSAS! Sam Raimi and the editors could have seriously trimmed this bit.
2) The pacing turns glacial as the producers, et al, throw too many 3D sequences at the audience for the sake of 3D. Oscar's first encounters could have been trimmed down substantially. These effects do not move the story along whatsoever.
3) James Franco looked slightly more alive in this role than he did hosting the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony with Anne Hathaway. James is a fine actor, but swung from too sincere to downright creepy as the con man who saves the magical kingdom. The producers choice of Robert Downey, Jr., as the charismatic con man was the better idea. Too bad he was overbooked with Ironman and Sherlock Holmes.
All-in-all, OZ was decent and will be added to the movie collection when it comes out on Blu-ray. The price of the theater ticket was worth it for Mila. If it weren't for her, I'd say wait until it's on Netflix.
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