Yesterday the wife and I caught a matinée of the new Disney film. Oz the Great and Powerful. I make mention of it being a matinée because that’s how you can always tell if I have confidence that a movie’s going to be good or bad. If I think a movie’s going to be worth it, I’ll go at night and pay the normal, albeit outrageous, prices.
If I think it’s going to suck….I’ll go see a matinée.
I’m happy to say that, as I’ve been with quite a few other films (ahem…Top Gun, E.T. the Extraterrestrial), I was wrong on this one.
I hadn’t done a ton of research or seen a lot of press for this one and only remembered it was a Disney film after it started. I also didn’t realize that it was directed by Sam Raimi and that helped to quell some of my fears that this might be a stinker.
One of the facts I did hear was that it was starring James Franco who, frankly, never really impressed me in anything else he’s ever been in. Not that he’s a bad actor, but he’s always come across as a sort of ‘pretty boy’ who phoned it in a lot.
To my surprise, Franco really pulled off the carny con man/huckster/stage magician pretty well and I could totally see him aging into a version of Frank Morgan’s portrayal of The Wizard.
Zach Braff, who I knew from “Scrubs” played the long-suffering ‘friend’ of Oscar (Oz) as well as voiced a strange parallel character of Finley the flying monkey.
Mila Kunis of “That 70s Show” fame played Theodora a ‘good’ witch and sister to Rachel Weisz’s Evanora character. Not to give anything away here, but if you remember your “Wizard of Oz” lore, you do remember hearing about witches who were….sisters….right?
Michelle Williams, who I had never seen before but recently played Marilyn Monroe, played a very convincing Glenda the Good Witch.
Being a Raimi film, you just know Bruce Campbell was going to make an appearance….which he did….and I’m not going to tell you who he plays, but I will warn you to not blink and look very close, or you may miss him. Of course, if you’re a Campbell fan, you’ll have no trouble spotting him by his voice. Bruce did get pretty high billing in the opening credits for the amount of screen time he got.
I really enjoyed the story and while it didn’t try to explain how everything came to be, it did touch on quite a few plot points from the original Wizard of Oz. I found myself, quite a few times, nodding and saying “Ahhh…this becomes that…” etc.
God bless Sam Raimi…he never seems to forget his Evil Dead roots and I always look for it in every film he directs. This flick was no different, especially at the end. Things happen and one of the character’s true form is revealed….looking a lot like a “She Bitch” from another of Raimi’s films, Army of Darkness. At least it did to me…but, maybe I was looking too hard, I don’t know.
Something else I look for in a good movie is the ability to surprise me. Nothing I hate worse than a film where I can predict almost every beat. Luckily, this wasn’t one of those films. I found the story well paced and not that predictable. The actors were convincing….even Franco….and, even though it had elements in it that made you believe you should have seen it in 3D, it wasn’t anything totally overwhelming. It was also pretty kid friendly and a good family film that everyone could enjoy.
I’d have no problem recommending this film and, honestly, wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel. Seeing as how The Wizard was an old man by the time Dorothy Gale got there, I’m sure there were quite a few years and a lot of adventures that could have happened in between.
So what are you waiting for? Hop on the next Kansas twister and head to Oz….just remember that you’re not supposed to look behind the curtain.
Until next time…