Oz the Great and Powerful
Director:- Sam Raimi
Starring:- James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff
Runtime:- 130 mins
Sam Raimi has always been a fearless filmmaker. From his gruesome, iconic Evil Dead horror franchise to bringing Spider-man to the big screen, he is a director who has never been afraid of taking risks. And in Oz the Great and Powerful, he takes his biggest risk to date, returning to the merry-old land of Oz, almost 75 years after Judy Garland’s Dorothy took her first tentative steps down the yellow brick road.
Raimi’s prequel follows James Franco from his humble beginnings as second-rate circus magician Oscar Digg’s, to the all powerful wizard of the Emerald City. As expected, he encounters a menagerie of weird and wonderful characters along the way, including Zach Braff’s talking monkey butler and a host of witches, varying in wickedness, played by Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz.
Some may feel a prequel to The Wizard of Oz to be blasiphemous, so beloved is the 1939 classic, and yet a cynical view of the film is in keeping with it’s lead character. If the subtext of the original film was a young girl’s journey into womanhood, Oz the Great and Powerful can be viewed as a study of what makes a man as Oz’s transitions from irresponsible Kansas playboy to mighty figure behind the screen. Equally intriguing is the subplot that offers a glimpse of how the Wicked Witch of the West earned her broomstick. The cast perform their duties admirably, with the only minor concern comeing from later scenes in which Kunis’ witch Theodora reveals her darker side. A talented comedic actor, Kunis lacks the powerful presence required to give her character the maniacal menace called for.
Ultimately the reason why Oz the Great and Powerful feels more like an unsubstantial adventure when compared to the timeless classic of 1939 is due to Raimi’s modern vision of the kingdom of Oz. Digitally captured as a vast mountainous landscape stretching as far as the eye can see, it looks more like a PS2 videogame than the magical world that captured our hearts all those years ago. It is still however a passable piece of fantasy fun, and unlike Tim Burton’s soulless Alice in Wonderland avoids the predictable epic final battle. With plenty of enjoyable nods to the original film, Oz the Great and Powerful holds the attention for the 2 plus hours. However Raimi’s offering suffers from the same condition affecting the Tinman in the 1939 version, a lack of heart.