Growing up and watching “The Wizard of Oz,” every girl wishes to have her pair of ruby slippers. “Wicked” gave us the backstory of the witch and sparked a new interest in the original classic novel. But what about the Wizard? As promised, “Oz the Great and Powerful” delivered an all-star cast and quite the visual spectacle.
Our story begins in “The Wizard of Oz” format of black and white, with Oz (James Franco) trying to make his career as a traveling circus magician going from city to city, as well as from girl to girl. True to form, we encounter characters in this black and white world that will re-emerge in Oz. When Oz is chased out of the circus, he hops in a hot-air balloon, and gets caught in a tornado. Before he plummets to his seeming death, Oz makes a promise that he will try to be a good man and is taken to a foreign world of color.
Here, Oz meets Theodora (Mila Kunis), a beautiful young witch who quickly falls in love with him. He is informed that he is the great wizard whom the people of Oz have been waiting for and is to be named king. Oz readily jumps on the opportunity to become somebody of greatness and obtain the riches of the land. Before he can take his throne, Oz is told by Theodora’s sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) that he must first kill the wicked witch.
On quest to kill the witch, Oz makes some new friends. Finley (Zach Braff), a good flying monkey, serves as Oz’s loyal sidekick and China Girl (Joey King), a small girl made of china, is Oz’s source of courage and faith. The big turning point happens when we meet Glinda (Michelle Williams), and suddenly our story is turned upside down.
Despite the big-name cast, the acting was a little sub-par. Franco, Braff and King provided realistic depictions of their characters and created comedic chemistry between the three of them in a Three Musketeer-esque way, but weren’t as strong at making serious moments believable. Kunis’ and Williams’ performances were a little lackluster. However, what the acting lacked, the scenery made up for tenfold.
It is obvious that this movie was made for 3-D. Even the black and white sequences were tastefully done, highlighting the action and not allowing any detail to be lost without color. Its fantastic scenery and mythical creatures came to life on the big screen with stunning graphics and effects. Despite the realistic nature of the world of Oz, at some points it was a little too “real.” As the live action characters moved from scene to scene, it appeared that they were drifting through a painted world rather than living in it.
All nit-picking aside, “Oz the Great and Powerful” deserves high praise for its excellent plot, masterful special effects and comedic script.
Recommended: It’s what Disney needed to be taken seriously for mature audiences.