Cast: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis, Zach Braff
Direction: Sam Raimi
Oz: The Great And Powerful is director Sam Raimi’s (Spider-Man Trilogy) attempt to bring back to life the 1939 classic ‘The Wizard Of Oz’, an adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s novel. So he teams up with the creators of Tim Burton’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’, casts James Franco (Spider-Man, 127 Hours) in the lead, along with award winning actresses Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener, The Mummy) Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn, Shutter Island), Mila Kunis (Black Swan) as the three witches and gets Danny Elfman (The Simpsons) to compose the background score. Now with a team like that, one would expect visually stunning and an entertaining fantasy ride. But, alas ‘Oz: The Great And Powerful’ only partially lives up to that expectation.
Set in 1905 as an unofficial prequel to ‘The Wizard of Oz’, the movie begins in B&W with 4:3 screen ratio where Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is a dubious small-time magician who is struggling to attract an audience for his trickery. While trying to make an escape the magician is sucked into a tornado and transported to the 3-D, colourful land of Oz. Here he meets the two witches Theodora (Mila Kunis) and Evanora (Rachel Weisz) who tell him that as foretold in a prophecy he's the wizard who must destroy the wicked witch Glinda (Michelle Williams) and free the people of Oz. With the greed of acquiring the Oz treasure, Oscar sets off on the task along with a flying monkey (voice of Zach Braff) and little girl made off china (voice of Joey King).
Now, the film falters in its casting. James Franco in the lead lacks charisma and showmanship needed for the character. Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis don’t impress either. The only stand out character is Zach Braff (Scrubs) as the flying monkey. He is cute, furry and does crack a few good one-liners. Visually the land of Oz is a treat to the eyes, but it’s not something you haven’t already seen in films of the same genre. The initial use of B&W also seems unnecessary. Although the film comes to life in the climax, it is too little, too late.
The film might just have enough to keep the kids interested, but the older audience might be better off watching a repeat of Burton’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’ or the original ‘The Wizard Of Oz’.
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