Prequels or sequels can be very touchy when it comes to meeting expectations. It chances even more disaster when it comes to a family film remembered by generations old and new such as “The Wizard of Oz.” However, Sam Raimi fairs well in the prequel film “Oz the Great and Powerful.”
Just like “The Wizard of Oz,” this “Oz” starts off in black and white in Kansas. It follows the life of Oscar Diggs (James Franco) aka Oz as he shows his eagerness to be great and seize the moment with many woman.
Franco plays his part well but there are points when his acting seems almost strained. But playing the part of the wizard of Oz can’t be easy when being compared to the original Oz (Frank Morgan).
As the magician leaves the carnival in a hot air balloon, trying to escape being caught in his womanizing ways, things slowly begin to pick up. He gets sucked into a twister and thrown out into the magical world of Oz.
Raimi does a tremendous job of portraying the world of Oz the way the original 1939 film did but like all things theatrical today, he went above and beyond with visual effects. The visual effects are mesmerizing throughout the film but there are some points which it is overwhelming. The visual effects made the movie that much more appealing because without them “Oz the Great and Powerful” could easily have been a bust.
Once in Oz, the three witches Theodora (Mila Kunis), Glinda (Michelle Williams), and Evanora (Rachel Weisz) make their appearance to the prophesied wizard. Each actress plays their role as a witch very well.
Kunis even steps out of her typical outgoing roles, doing the shy and timid role of Theodora very well. After they have been introduced, all that’s left is to see which one ends up becoming the green witch so well-known in “The Wizard of Oz.”
While journeying to the Emerald City Oz makes a new acquaintance named Finley (voice of Zach Braff), a winged monkey who indebts his life to the magician. As they take on the task of finding the wicked witch and destroying her wand, they come across another acquaintance in a place called China Town, a small China Girl (Joey King).
They join Oz on his journey and it is the China Girl that breaks through his lying, greedy and almost arrogant ways, helping turn him into the hero he is meant to be. The China Girl is the one character that truly tugs at the heart while the other acting is good but not great.
Along the road there are funny and destructive moments that will pull movie goers into the film. But it is Oz’s con artist ways and deceptive tricks that inevitably lead to him taking his rightful place as the man behind the curtain.
Page 2 of 2 - As I left the theatre I was satisfied with the movie and even more pleased that they didn’t destroy how one imagined Oz to be before “The Wizard of Oz.” It is a fun and exciting movie I would recommend taking the family to see.
Rating out of 5 stars: ***1/2
Rated: PG 2 hours 7 minutes
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Cast: James Franco, Michele Williams, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff, Joey King.