movie film review | chris tookey

Oz: The Great and Powerful

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  Oz: The Great and Powerful Review
Tookey's Rating
8 /10
Average Rating
4.57 /10
James Franco, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams
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Directed by: Sam Raimi
Written by: Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire , based on the novels by L. Frank Baum

Released: 2013
Origin: US
Length: 127

Entertaining return to Oz.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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An unlikely recruit to Disney, Sam Raimi Ė who started out with horror nasties like The Evil Dead but is now best known for the Spider Man blockbusters Ė has made a splendid and highly enjoyable prequel to The Wizard of Oz.

From the opening credits, he and his design team use every cent of their 200 million dollar budget to create a retro wonderland thatís a homage to pop-up Victorian theatres and the 1939 classic starring Judy Garland. Itís also influenced by Tim Burtonís Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is no bad thing.

The story, inspired by 14 books about Oz by L. Frank Baum, records how a huckster magician and serial seducer from a travelling show (James Franco, pictured centre left) is transported by hurricane from the black-and-white real world to a resplendently colourful land where the inhabitants are dominated by good and bad witches.

These are played by a trio of talents Ė Rachel Weisz (pictured extreme right), Michelle Williams (second right) and Mila Kunis (left). Part of the fun relies on working out which is good and which is bad, so I wonít spoil the process for you.

The fake magician saves a broken porcelain china girl (voiced by Joey King) and a ridiculously servile flying monkey (Zach Braff), and they become his faithful sidekicks. Can their hero overcome evil and become a better person? The trouble is he doesnít have any magic powers, just an entertainerís bag of tricks.

The film isnít completely wizard. The vicious, flying baboons may be too much for very small children. Franco strains too hard to be funny, and itís easy to imagine how Raimiís first two choices, Robert Downey Jr and Johnny Depp, might have been more endearing. And the film disappointingly fails to deliver him any come-uppance for his mistreatment of women; I guess the unfashionable message is that boys will be boys.

The movieís strengths are its flamboyantly kitsch design and ingenious, humorous screenplay, calculated to please parents and grandparents at least as much as their progeny.

If there is an underlying theme, it is about the power of cinema to bring magic to our lives. Raimi achieves this with a seamless mixture of CGI and the kind of vast studio sets they went in for in the Golden Age of Hollywood. I enjoyed it immensely.

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