Basically one day, some Disney executive smoked a joint and thought “let’s have a prequel to The Wizard of Oz” but someone told them there was already a prequel floating around called Wicked. But the executive ignored that story and decided to throw money at pretty obvious prequel story based on the Wizard’s origins without the aid of the original source material by L.Frank Baum. And the result was Oz The Great and Powerful.
If I sound like I dislike this movie, I really didn’t hate it, I mean I didn’t like it either. It does something nicely but it has a lot of flaws and the story is just typical.
Oz is side-show magician who is also a con-man womanizer. He wants to be a great man like Tesla Ruining, Elephant killing, reason for L.A, Thomas Edison. One day he gets in trouble with an audience and a strongman and he escapes in hot air balloon and get sucks into tornado and lands in the whimsical land of OZ. He meets a pretty lady named Theodaora the good, a witch. She tells Oz that he is the wizard of prophesy who save the land and rule OZ. Then they get attacked by the wicked witch’s minion. As they make their way to the Emerald City, Oz flirts with Theodora and she being an innocent naive lady believes him and thinks he is going to marry her. He also meets a flying monkey named Finley who becomes Oz’s servant
At the Emerald City Oz meets Theodora’s sister, Evanora. Evanora tells Oz he needs to kill the wicked witch before he can become king. So he leaves with Finley but doesn’t tell Theodora. Evanora then starts manipulating Theodora against Oz.
On their way to a dark forest they see that city that was attacked by the Wicked Witch and they meet a China Girl. Oz fixes her broken legs and joins the party. They sees the wicked witch but she is actually Glinda the Good Witch of the North and the daughter of the original king of OZ who got murdered. Evanora is revealed the real wicked witch. Theodora then gets mad at Oz for being with Glinda, Evanora gives Theodora an apple to remove her heart and as result Theodora’s skin changes to green and she is wicked. Evanora then attacks Oz and crew. They escape with Glinda’s bubbles and they go to Munchkin land.
Oz and crew plan an attack using Oz’s skills of illusion and misdirection. They win and Theodora leaves and Glinda beats Evanora who is actually an ugly hag. Oz then rules OZ as the Wizard of OZ. The end.
With Oz The Great and Powerful we have three movies within the same universe that are VASTLY different in tones and style. The original 1939 movie is fun and light-hearted while the sequel Return to Oz is classic 80’s dark children faire. Oz The Great and Powerful is sort of in middle of those tones but it’s very unapologetic in its modern sense of story telling.
Like the main character who wants more from life and to be the very best like no-one ever was. There is also a prophecy about the chosen one. More than that, the movie reveals in the 3D theatre experience where it just take it’s time for the pretty CG stuff to sink in, which are fine on the whole. The China Girl was one of the best CGs I have seen in a long time. The shine and shadows on her were wonderful. She was also the only character with any sense of pathos.
Also speaking of the other movies. The 1939 movie made it clear that OZ was a dream and Return To Oz was the nightmare though it was a little more vague in Reurn to Oz. However is straight up Oz subtitle the Great and Powerful it’s not a dream, it’s real. Which makes it confusing when there are characters in Kansas that are the basis for characters in the land of OZ most notably Michelle Williams as Annie who is a former lover of Oz’s as well as Glinda.
Then we have the casting. The casting is very problematic in this movie. There is something about James Franco. I don’t know what it but I do not buy it. He seems to lack the charm and charisma that this character needs. However he is not this biggest casting mistake. That would be Mila Kunis as Theodora. Her naive innocence, which should have been core to the character was not believable but Kunis was better in that capacity than her as the Wicked Witch, which she did not pull off at all. It bordered on being silly but in a very boring way. Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz were fine in their roles. Only the China Girl and the flying Money did the best and the were just voice acting.
This movie may seem like character driven movie but it exist more as a technical piece because once you start asking about characters and motivation there isn’t a lot there. The character that should have been interesting is Theodora but her “broken” was the most rushed and illogical turning point ever. She get a broken heart because Oz talks to Glinda, that is it. I mean yes, Evanora turned her against him but in a movie that allowed for few minutes of showing Oz travel down the river to rush a major moment was sloppy. Also the make-up for the wicked witch was beyond bad. Theodora was wasted.
If your going to watch Oz The Great and Powerful watch it for some of the technicals, like the China Girl and some of the imagery. Don’t want it for an compelling story or interesting characters, you will not find it on this yellow or red brick road.
Since October is a theme month we going with Live-Action fairy tale-ish movies that in keep with said theme, more or less, so Clue 1 and Clue 2Follow thehunchblog