As a huge fan of the 1939 Academy Award nominated classic film, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ one would get some what excited and intrigued by a modern prequel to the timeless Technicolor film. ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ was a good film, but nowhere near the caliber of the original film, because it lacked just that, originality. ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ is centered around Oscar Diggs (portrayed by James Franco) and how he becomes the iconic character “The Wizard of Oz.”
The film starts off much like the original, in Kansas in a sepia tone. The audience learns almost immediately that Oscar ‘Oz’ is a circus magician, more like a con-man, and a womanizer. He has an assistant, Frank portrayed by Zach Braff, and after one of their shows, a big beastly man discovers a music box Oz gave to that man's girlfriend and chases him in hopes to beat him up or worse. Frank assists Oz into a hot air balloon and he luckily escapes. But, the balloon gets stuck inside the cyclone of a twister and drifts Oz into an unknown land just over the rainbow. As soon as Oz enters Oz the film then turns into color and the fantasy begins. The cinematography in the film is absolutely beautiful. The lush scenery and the breathtaking sets are astounding.
The acting in the film is decent. Mila Kunis portrays Theodora, the Wicked Witch of the West. She starts off as beautiful and naïve. Her character is interesting, because Kunis has to take the character through several levels until she is considered wicked. The downfall of her character was that the special effects were dreadful. They made her face look completely unrealistic and almost difficult to look at. She was completely unrecognizable in a bad way. The Wicked Witch is supposed to be one of the most evil characters in film history, and director Sam Raimi clearly didn’t take that thought into effect when creating that look, feel and tone for the infamous witch. Michelle Williams was captivating as Glinda. She was beautiful, elegant and peaceful just like the original. It was enjoyable to observe more scenes with her character and get a sense of how it all began with a rivalry between witches. Rachel Weisz delivered a fine performance, as Evanora the Wicked Witch of the East. Her character mainly consisted of manipulating her sister to do evil things, and conniving up plans on how Theodora should feel and think about certain situations. Last, but not least James Franco’s performance was a bit of a disappointment. Pay no attention to the man portraying Oz. He obviously had big shoes to fill; the wizard of Oz is a character that is noble, knowledgeable, and an all around “very good man.” Franco’s Oz came off as more of a selfish, egotistical con-man. Sure, he had some surprising moments, but to grow up watching a film where this “very good man, but very bad wizard” is bringing hope, heart and inspiration to his audience, one would desire that this film would convey the same feeling. Unfortunately it did not. The film did have a lot of similar qualities, such as the dialogue, the characteristics –Glinda transports through bubble, and provides the feeling of safeness just like Billie Burke provided in the original, Kunis attempts the infamous cackle, which was decent, but not perfected- and it tried to garner the same message as the original.
In conclusion, ‘Oz the great and powerful’ is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys fantasy films, Sam Rami’s work, and any ‘Oz’ fans that want to give another ‘Oz’ film a shot by paying money to see a film that will never ever compare to the epic masterpiece that is “The Wizard of Oz.”