By Peter Hyle
Everyone knows the classic tale of Dorothy, traveling into the Land of Oz with her small dog named Toto. On her journey, Dorothy runs into multiple characters including Glinda the good witch, who tells her exactly what she needs to do. The 1939 film revolves around the characters trying to reach the Wizard of Oz, who turns out to be nothing more than a man behind a curtain. The Wizard of Oz starts where the newly released Oz the Great and Powerful ends.
The film starts much like The Wizard of Oz, in Kansas and more surprisingly, in black and white. It isn’t until Oscar Diggs (James Franco) gets sucked into a tornado that the stunning visuals and bright colors appear on screen.
On a journey of his own, Oscar meets three different witches and lies to them all. A conman at heart, he pretends to be the Wizard of Oz in hopes to gain the gold and the kingdom. After lying to Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and Glinda (Michelle Williams) Oz must figure out who is truly good and who is secretly evil before he is killed.
This movie is both comical and suspenseful, and can easily be enjoyed by people of any age. Despite the funny lines and unexpected twists, Oz lacks in other areas. Things that were crucial to the first movie are insignificant in this prequel. Ruby red slippers have no place in this film, and neither do characters like the Tin Man or the Scarecrow. Thankfully, the Cowardly Lion does have a small part in this movie that brought a smile to my face.
Even though I am not a big fan of the musical numbers in The Wizard of Oz, a part of me wishes that this movie was filmed more like the original. Just about everything I saw in Oz was digitally animated, which I, at first, thought would make the film better. But after watching the entire thing, I feel like it doesn’t do the original movie justice in some ways.
Looking past the few problems I experienced with this Disney film, I think that director Sam Raimi did a wonderful job focusing Oz on the balance between good and evil inside this strange world. That is essentially the entire plot of both films, and I’m glad that this was clear throughout the movie.
In all, this PG rated film is over two hours of fun and excitement. Through all of the magic and trickery, it shows how Oscar Diggs, a small-time magician transforms into the Wizard of Oz. A prequel to a beloved classic, it answers questions that I didn’t even know existed inside my head. There were several things that I think the creators could have done better, such as adding more of the original characters. But in the end I think that Oz the Great and Powerful is pleasantly amusing and an all around thrill.
Check out the March 22 issue for another review of Oz from A&E reporter Beth Brumeier.