Rant and Rave: Oz the Great and Powerful

Rating: 2.5

Deviating from productions like Spiderman and the Evil Dead, director Sam Raimi concocts fantasy film Oz the Great and Powerful, which hit cinemas worldwide last March 8. It is a prequel to the book by Frank L. Baum, entitled The Wizard of Oz, which had a 1939 film adaptation of the same name.

Set around 20 years before Dorothy had stepped foot on the yellow brick road, playboy carnival magician Oscar Diggs, nicknamed Oz, left his string of lovers and hopped onto a hot air balloon to escape a trail of angry husbands. He narrowly escapes them, only to sail into a killer storm that would take him to the mystical land of Oz, where he would meet three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and Glinda (Michelle Williams).

To prove he was the prophesied wizard who will save all of Oz (and inherit its riches), he, his life-debt servant monkey, Finley (Zack Braff), and a porcelain girl (Joey King), set off to kill the evil witch that had poisoned the previous king. As Oz and his companions unravel the truth, jealousy begins to boil, and Emerald City falls to the hands of darkness. With an army forbidden to kill and a flying monkey servant by his side, Oz attempts to pull off the greatest trick he has ever pulled to save the Emerald City from the clutches of evil.

Oz the Great and Powerful has received mixed reviews from critics. CNN movie critic Tom Charity remarks, “The new “Oz” falls short of the 1939 “Oz” in charm and innocence and certainly in songs (there is only one, a brief, jokey number from the Munchkins). But as family entertainment, it’s hard to fault such a rapturous spectacle and astute, suspenseful piece of storytelling… That’s more than good enough.”

Karl de Mesa, a local film critic from the GMA Network comments on James Franco’s acting as “too self-aware and winkingly depracating.” The film garnered praise for its supporting characters from Lisa Kennedy of the Denver Post stating, “Let us take a moment to praise two great and surprisingly powerful characters: a winged monkey and a wee girl made out of china. Because so much human wonder resides in these two creations of make-up, puppetry, digital effects and lovely performances.”

Adding to De Mesa’s statement, James Franco’s acting failed to show the ideal emotions and sincerity in his smiles, causing him to become a little disconnected from the character while also making him less of the hero the viewers hoped and wished to see. Character-wise, Oz could have had at least a little more depth and characterization other than playing the static good-for-nothing philanderer with a one-track mind.

It was somewhat of a joy to watch the other characters’ growth throughout the story. Note, for instance, how Theodora transforms where Mila Kunis does not. Unfortunately, her acting fell short starting from the twist that sparks the climax.

The movie did produce praise-worthy characters and performances though, like Evanora, whose acting is probably the most believable from the cast, and Finley the winged monkey servant and the China girl, who were both computer generated but commanded the most impact on moviegoers. Their subtle humor sets the whole theater laughing their guts out.

Other than that, the imaging and editing were stunning and superb. The scenery was vivid, sharp, and so detailed it made the land of Oz so real it felt like the set and the scene were one and the same, alive and perfect for IMAX 3D.

The plot of the movie does well together with Dorothy’s story so much that it perfectly explains how the characters and the Emerald City came to be. However, story-wise, the plot seems predictable and doesn’t cut it like the heartwarming 1939 movie did, because unlike its predecessor, this graphic-packed adaptation just simply lacked wonder.

Overall, Oz the Great and Powerful was a decent flick. It may fall flat in some areas but in the end, it is an entertaining movie with eye-catching cinematography and colorful characters that will make one drop their jaw, laugh, and smile. But they won’t last.

Kimberly Ly

By Kimberly Ly

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