Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz-the-Great-and-Powerful This is the film 3D has been waiting for. Unfortunately no one told this to the writers. Have you ever wondered how the Wizard got to Oz has amassed so much power? Well Disney has decided to tell us that tale with cult favorite director Sam Raimi at the helm. Just how does a simple carnival magician put aside his greed and womanizing ways to become the Great and Powerful benefactor of a land of enchantment?  Now I don’t want to tell you just how much of the Land of Oz’s origins are revealed because I don’t want to spoil anything but I will say that we get a bit more than the trailers let on. We also get a lot in between that we could do without.

Let me just get this out of the way… this movie is BEAUTIFUL! From black and white opening to full coloring closing this movie is a spectacle to behold. I’m not a big fan of 3D as I believe it is over used on movies that don’t need it or were never meant to be 3D. However this time I reveled in it just as Raimi clearly did while making it. Just like the original Oz film we start in the land of monochrome. To emphasize the difference the backgrounds are very flat which stands out in a very cool way in 3D. Think Monty Python animations in 3D as in we have multiple two dimensional planes playing with our eyes. It’s just a ton of fun. But then we eventually get to Oz and it switches over to full color and and I simply have no words for how beautiful this place looks! Thankfully Raimi does reel in the wonderment so we are not distracted the whole time but when it’s time to stun us he does so with style! Raimi is just the perfect director for a 3D movie. He knows when to let it help the story and when to have things pop and fly about to really make you feel the film. There is one shot that comes to mind where wooden spikes are jutting at Mr. Oz and it was just GREAT!

However I need to calm down before I just slap five stars on this movie because of the eye candy. I need to talk about the story we are given. The film loses an awful lot of points because the story really isn’t that complex. It doesn’t need the two hours we have to tell this tale and therefore it’s severely padded and drags on in many places. To help that along we do get a few twists. There is an obvious one in the beginning and then a later twist that upsets the first twist that I honestly didn’t quite see coming. This movie reeks of red herrings.

So we have a pacing problem. One thing that can fix that is interesting and lively characters. This is the Land of Oz! We shouldn’t be able to throw a yellow brick without hitting a few dozen of those, right? Right? Dammit, no. While Dorothy got a fun crew together that introduced themselves through uplifting songs that stay in your head your entire life we get a couple of almost interesting characters that introduce themselves by… being there. Oz comes along, helps a couple of characters and they stick with him. Just two. And they really aren’t very interesting at all. The first, a small flying monkey voiced by Zach Braff, should be incredibly helpful but honestly spends most of his time dragging around Oz’s bag or carrying the second member of the group a tiny porcelain girl that never gets a name. She is more of a hindrance aside from one small role in the end of the film. Oh, and they don’t sing. No one does. I feel like this film would have really benefited by filling this time with some song and dance but the only time that happens our hero shuts it all down.

So Oz, the man not the place, is played by James Franco. In the beginning he does an amazing job as a douche bag carnival magician but as the film goes on and he discovers himself he acts more and more like James Franco and therefore less interesting. And while I really want to speak about our main villain I also don’t want to spoil the big twists. Let’s just say the villain doesn’t work and that due to the person they chose to fill the role. While I’m sure that person had fun it just isn’t a good fit in the slightest.

In the end this movie is frustrating. The visuals pump this movie through the roof for me! But the story and pacing and characters drag it way back down.

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