Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013)

Oz

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Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Why, Franco, Why?

Most people are not okay with Hollywood deciding to remake classic greats, but you’re going to find that more people are willing to see a sequel or prequel than to see their favorite ageless film get butchered at the hands of some buffoon who thinks it would be a bright idea to make it better by their own personal standards. Then again, it’s free game if someone makes a movie that follows or precedes the original film. For “Oz: The Great and Powerful”, it tells the story of what happened in the land of Oz before Dorothy and the gang followed the yellow brick road. Clearly, by the trailer, the film would have a strong focus on visual stimuli, but beyond that, this film has been shrouded in mystery on how good or bad it really was.

James Franco plays Oz, a struggling magician in Kansas. Oz wishes to someday be a great man like Thomas Edison, but people continue to look down on him, and no one is willing to believe in him. Oz runs away after a large man came chasing after him for stealing the heart of his woman. Oz jumps into a hot air balloon and flies away to freedom, which in his case…was a giant tornado. You know the drill here, after being tossed from side to side, Oz ends up in the land of…well…Oz.  It is there that he meets Theodora (Mila Kunis), who tells him that there is a prophesy of a long-awaited wizard who would save them from the wicked witch. So he plays the part, says he is the wizard, and ventures out to kill the wicked witch because if he does so…he would be rewarded with gold. Along the way, he unsurprisingly runs into interesting creatures.

There are good aspects to the film as well as bad aspects, and I mean…bad. The good aspects were simple; it was when the movie made homage to the original film. Trust me, there are plenty of times that the movie pays homage, and those times it’s pretty cool. Yes I know this place, and that, oh of course the yellow brick road and emerald city. It’s great. Introduced to some interesting and funny characters on the run, that’s great. It fell short, however, when it tried to be its own thing. Its worst aspect, which is seriously unfortunate, is James Franco.

Yes, Franco is the lead, but he was the worst actor to choose from. There was no real connection with the audience, or emotion from Franco, but not only that, but he actually pulled the movie down from where it could have potentially gotten. Everything else felt like homage to the original, black and white intro with dialogue that makes perfect sense, and feels right. There were also some awesome backdrops that were obvious, just as the first one was. Then you have James Franco acting like James Franco, literally. Out of the entire flick, Franco did not feel as if he fit in. He starts saying lines that feel modernized and even sarcastic, as Franco often is, while everyone else is acting right…The other actors/characters felt fine for the most part. Glinda the Good Witch was perfect, as was Joey King as the china girl was phenomenal. The wicked witch was okay…the costume and laugh was spot on, but there was something wrong with her makeup and regular speaking voice. Keep that in mind.

Finally, it has to be mentioned. Computer graphics. It is absolutely, beyond a doubt, clear that this movie was shooting for stunning visuals. Not only that, but stunning 3D visuals. So much in fact, that it feels overloaded at times. There is some CGI that looks beautiful in the movie, some CGI that just looks okay, and there was actually a surprising amount of CGI that looked very bad. Just because there was just too much CGI thrown in, or as many critics would like to say, CGI vomit.

Also, remember that this is a movie is a standalone movie in the Oz universe, but it really disappointed me personally to learn that there was no musical numbers. The original was very much comprised of music to lighten the tone in order to make things simple, yet effective. They hinted at a musical number for about five seconds, but Franco’s character tells them to stop. Thanks, Franco, again. To me, that felt like actually making fun of the original, not being respectful. Maybe it is because of how Franco came off in the movie, maybe not, but that was just a disappointment.

Basically, one of the biggest issues that the movie has is trying to pay homage to the original classic while trying to be modern at the same time. In this instance…it just didn’t work. They are just two polar opposite tones, and they conflict, and they conflict hard. It’s not that the movie is bad, necessarily, but it isn’t great either. It’s fun. It’s cool to see locations that you remember, characters you’ve seen before, and hints to the original; but professionally speaking…this film had some issues.

Oz: The Great and Powerful” came to theaters on Mar. 8! Check it out and see for yourself if the film is good or bad.

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