“We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wi–arghhh!”
Yes, we’re about to get another take on L. Frank Baum’s classic yarn, captured to perfection in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.”
This time, the focus will be on the horrific elements entwined in the tale.
It’s not the worst idea to come out of Hollywood recently. That might be the upcoming “CHIPs” movie, which has yielded not one but two terrible trailers (so far).
What about the “other” “Oz” movies? We’ve already seen several attempts to return to Oz … with mixed results. Here’s how they rank so far…
5. Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (2014)
This one sank like a stone at the box office, but not before critics could gang tackle it first. That’s a shame, since it’s perfectly acceptable kiddie fodder. Yes, the animation is far from first-rate. And vocal stars like Dan Aykroyd aren’t A-listers anymore.
Still, “Oz” completists could do far worse than give this a try. Just don’t expect a fraction of the magic conjured up by Judy Garland and friends.
4. Return to Oz (1985)
This 1985 fantasy hit theaters with plenty of anticipation. It left with a serious pop culture hangover.
Based partly on other books written by Baum, the movie failed to re-ignite interest in All Things Dorothy. Instead, it made the prospect of more “Oz” stories far less likely.
Ironically, it would have received far more love had it hit theaters today. The story’s dark tone proved a poor fit for the Reagan Era. Now, grittier spins on classic stories aren’t just welcomed. They’re encouraged.
3. The Wiz (1978)
This “Wiz” wasn’t a wow … at first. The film, based on the popular urban musical, fizzled with movie audiences.
Time passed. Slowly, the movie and the source material grew in popularity. It helped that one co-star went on to become the official King of Pop. Plus, the cast surrounding Michael Jackson proved eclectic, from the legendary Diana Ross (too old for the role, but still…) to Nipsey Russell.
Its legacy helped NBC bring the musical back at the end of 2015 with “The Wiz Live” TV presentation.
2. Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
This Sam Raimi confection came the closest to duplicating that original Oz magic. But only for short, sustained bursts.
James Franco stars as the man who would become Oz, but he hardly starts out in impressive fashion. He’s shifty, plain and simple. His journey transforms him into the iconic character we grew to love, fear and pity.
Franco wasn’t the best choice to play the role. And the CGI treats, while marvelous on the surface, couldn’t match the glory of that simple, CGI-free yellow brick road.
1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
There’s a reason the 1939 classic hasn’t grown stale with time. Yes, the effects are crude by modern standards. There’s more than enough cinema magic to make up for it.
And when the tale transforms from black and white to technicolor … it’s a marvel that delights kids of all ages.
The classic film wasn’t a horror story, but it did give generations of young viewers nightmares over the years. Margaret Hamilton’s Witch is plenty scary with that creepy green skin, and her cackle is as cold as the North Pole.
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