"Oz the Great and Powerful"
2.5 out of 5 stars
Published: Monday, March 11, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 15:03
“Oz the Great and Powerful” has all the elements of a potentially great reimagining of the childhood classic “The Wizard of Oz,” but this retelling’s solid foundation of a plot was swept away by acting as destructive as the tornado that plows through both films. James Franco as Oz and Mila Kunis as Theodora obliterate any chances of taking “Oz” as a serious work and instead, created a film that seems to realize just how very poorly made it is.
Much like the original film, the movie opens in black and white with extensive exposition during which Oz is portrayed as a self-absorbed womanizer. Oz is a stage magician in a traveling sideshow, and while he has genuine talent, he alienates the people surrounding him with his egotistical attitude. He has ambitions to be “great and powerful”—yes, the title is explicitly stated numerous times—and when a tornado lands him in Oz, a prophecy foretells of him actualizing his potential to be great.
The first person Oz encounters is Theodora, a witch, who informs him that the people of Oz have waited for a wizard who bears the name of their land to come and defeat the Wicked Witch. Oz is enticed by the riches he will receive if he fulfills the prophecy, and he agrees to journey to the Emerald City with Theodora where he meets her sister and fellow witch, Evanora (Rachel Weisz). The two convince him to find the Wicked Witch who they trick him into believing is Glinda (Michelle Williams). Along the way, Oz gains some CGI companions—a flying monkey named Finley (Zach Braff) and a china doll (Zoey King).
When Oz finds Glinda, he learns that he has been deceived, and he unites with her to defeat the true Wicked Witch, whose journey to becoming wicked serves as a surprising twist to the film. Along the way, the film makes many obvious (but appreciated) references to the original film, and ultimately has a plot that fits perfectly within the context of the original plot.
The movie’s strength lies in its visually stunning effects and superb 3D. In addition, the film’s costumes and makeup deserve accolades. The movie’s storyline is strong, and if Oz and Theodora had been cast differently, the film definitely had the potential to be a success. Franco just falls short as Oz, and his inability to realistically interact with his CGI creatures hinders the film greatly. Kunis also delivers a poor performance with a massive amount of overacting. While Williams and Weisz shine, their performances are just not enough to compensate for Franco and Kunis. So if you’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz, it should not be because of the wonderful things Franco does.