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Pay Attention To That Man Behind The Curtain in Oz: The Great and Powerful

Sam Raimi's prequel has a few bumps in its Yellow Brick Road but dazzles with a slam-bang ending.

by
John Boot

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March 8, 2013 - 11:00 am
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Three years ago Disney made a bazillion dollars off Alice in Wonderland, and this spring they’ve followed that up with a film that delivers a similar experience and is likely to be equally profitable. Like Alice, the Wizard of Oz prequel Oz: The Great and Powerful is a little too goofy, but it has its moments and your eyeballs certainly get their money’s worth. The special effects and the 3D are as brilliant as the jokes are dim.

James Franco, who is completely the wrong choice for the part, stars as Oscar (friends call him Oz, Z being one of his many middle initials), a cheap fairground magician in a black-and-white 1905 Kansas. He’s on the run from some circus freaks he has cheated when, wouldn’t you know it, here comes a twister that batters Oscar in his hot-air balloon. Next, the image widens, the black and white is replaced by color and we’re in the merry old land of Oz.

Launching this movie exactly the same way The Wizard of Oz got started seems like a failure of imagination, though merely rehashing much the same plot with 21st century special effects would give you a film better than most. Like Dorothy (who isn’t in this one), Oscar encounters some unusual friends (first up, a flying monkey who vows to become his lifetime servant after the lame and cowardly Oscar saves him from a lion with a two-bit magic trick). The monkey and others are versions of people Oscar knew back home. They hit the Yellow Brick Road for a quest to defeat an evil witch (by breaking her wand this time), and Oscar becomes the toast of the Emerald City.

All of this is sprinkled with dumb humor more appropriate for a spoof than a second entry in the series; Oscar wants to know why the wisecracking monkey is dressed “in a bellhop’s uniform” and he and the monkey muse that there must be some yellow-brick potholes in the road. When Oscar mentions bananas, the monkey (voiced by Zach Braff) grouses that it’s a stereotype to accuse monkeys of liking bananas (which he loves, but never mind). You know what’s really easy? Making fun of The Wizard of Oz. You know what isn’t? Creating a piece of dramatic fantasy that lingers in the popular imagination for four generations. So guess which movie is better?

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All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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I like such stories as they take us to another world.
http://feelday.com/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ok
I see this movie. But no movie could capture what i see in this past week after the release from Lilith from her prison after she scape goat for all the sins of Eve's children YIKES
The science weatherman caught with his pants down with his science models and they look like monkeys with their long tails between their tails between their legs wrong prediction after stupid prediction
And I must pinch my flesh body to convince myself I am still flesh and blood after I complete the circle from the great city to burn away the demons at the foot of the white Mountains and now back to my 13 heavens the silver sharp sword in the eastern sky before sunrise has always been peaceful sign to me meaning to see this I am not dangling on the fish hook moon as i was this week
Yikes
Without the saints there is no way this could be done. Thank the good Lord Saint Mary of the Magdiline show up when she did or I can see shake and shiver time in what may have felt like eternal hell
yikes
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
oh
this is good North Korea did not Nuke Washington DC this week . I had no time to pay attention to the little stuff
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A) The 30's movie had little to do with the books it was based on, and B) The story of OZ coming to Oz as a flim-flam man WAS actually in the books. Glinda eventually takes him under her wing and actually teaches him how to be a wizard and he lives there with them the rest of his life.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Long before I came across “Wicked”, I had suspected that the so-called Wicked Witch of the West was getting a raw deal, to wit; Glinda’s in-your-face theft of her dead sister’s shoes and her total (bordering on sociopathic) lack of concern over that death.

And since reading “Wicked” all I can say is “I stand with Elphaba!”
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Launching this movie exactly the same way The Wizard of Oz got started seems like a failure of imagination,. . ."

Not the director's fault that you lack imagination. I thought it was a very nice touch to pay homage to a classic.

As for why the witch is out for a walk in skin tight pants, umm, its a fantasy movie. I note you whine about that, but completely overlook the part of the original Oz where the Wicked Witch of the West, for whom water is a deadly acid, has a random bucket of the stuff in her castle. What sense does that make?

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They didn't have bathrooms in those late medieval Oz days.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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