Return to Oz
Return to Oz
Director: Walter Murch
Writers: L. Frank Baum, Gill Dennis, Walter Murch
Cast: Fairuza Balk, Nicol Williamson, Jean Marsh, Piper Laurie, Matt Clark, Michael Sundin, Tim Rose, Mak Wilson, Stewart Larange, Stephen Norrington, Justin Case, John Alexander, Deep Roy, Emma Ridley, Sophie Ward, Fiona Victory, Pons Maar, Rachel Ashton, Robbie Barnett, Ailsa Berk, Peter Elliott, Roger Ennals, Michele Hine, Mark Hopkins, Colin Skeaping, Ken Stevens, Philip Tan, Rob Thirtle, Bruce Boa, Tansy
Voice Cast: Sean Barrett, Denise Bryer, Brian Henson, Lyle Conway
Synopsis: Dorothy, saved from a psychiatric experiment by a mysterious girl, is somehow called back to Oz when a vain witch and the Nome King destroy everything that makes the magical land beautiful.
MPAA Rating: PG
Note: In honor the recently released "Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return", I have taken it upon myself to review every single Oz film adaptation ever conceived; with the notable exception of TV shows and mini-series because there's simply too much of it.
10 / 10
- Great special effects
- Interesting character and set designs that help give the movie an identity all it's own
- Jean Marsh and Fairuza Balk deliver fairly decent performances
- Each character has a unique personality, and compliments the story quite well.
- Story might be a bit dark for kids to watch.
Arguably one of the most underrated classics ever made
"Return to Oz" may not be as fondly remembered as the original 1939 film, but it's still a classic nonetheless. Although, some people have complained about the casting of Dorothy in this movie, as Disney chose to cast a little girl instead of a teenager like the original movie. However, what many of those same skeptics fail to realize is that, in the original book series, Dorothy was always portrayed as a little girl in the Oz stories that Baum wrote.
Therefore, Disney was merely casting closer to the actual character's age, but the best way to think of this film is that it's a continuation of the story, "The Wizard of Oz", rather than a direct sequel to the MGM 1939 film if that makes any sense. Now, without further delay, lets start the review.
Months later after the events of original "Wizard of Oz" story arc, Dorothy Gale (Fairuza Balk) is still having dreams about the magical place she once visited, as she can't seem to ever stop thinking about it. Let alone stop talking about it altogether; which leads to her Aunt Em and Uncle becoming worried about her, so they arrange for her to stay over at a hospital for a while. The doctors at the hospital want to use an experimental machine on her that they promise will not only get rid her dreams, but they also claim she'll never see Oz again.
Needless to say, things don't go according to plan, as a mysterious young girl breaks her out of the hospital on a stormy night. And through an elaborate series of events, Dorothy finds herself back in the land of Oz; along with her pet chicken this time. As she wanders through Oz again, she soon learns that the Emerald City was turned into stone by an evil Nome King, and a vain wicked witch. With little hope left, Dorothy must summon the strength to find a way to free the land of Oz from their reign of tyranny, in order to restore peace throughout the land. Aided by a colorful cast of misfit characters along the way, as this is one fantasy epic that audiences shall not soon forget.
"Return to Oz" is arguably one of the best fantasy stories that I've ever had the honor of seeing. Although the story might be a bit too dark for some kids, it's still quite enjoyable. The characters are colorful, yet amazingly complex. Like the original 1939 movie, each character has a unique personality all their own, and they each share a close relationship with Dorothy. I especially loved all the designs for the characters, as they're arguably more imaginative than the ones we saw in the 1939 version.
The villains are written rather well, and I have to admit the set designs for this movie are very interesting. I especially loved the set designs for Princess Mombi's castle, and the Nome King's cave. Mombi's enchanted castle was decorated like an old victorian mansion, and it reeks of creepiness that would make one's skin crawl in fear. Whereas the Nome King's cave, it was nothing like I've ever seen before. Coming off as a mysterious labyrinth, as I have to admit that Disney does a great job portraying a mysterious fantasy world that one won't soon forget, after watching this movie.
The special effects are very well done, and they could arguably still hold up against many of today's CGI heavy movies. Unlike most of today's fantasy epics, this one seems to utilize more practical effects, by using claymation mixed with puppetry, that you would find in most Jim Henson films. However, the end result is still quite impressive, as you find yourself enthralled in a fantasy film like no other.
As far as the acting goes, it was pretty decent. I wouldn't go out of my way to say that anyone in this film delivered an Oscar caliber performance or anything, but everyone seemed to play their parts rather well.
Fairuza Balk was fairly decent in her role as Dorothy Gale, as she comes off like the frightened little girl that yearns to get home, and save her friends. Meanwhile, Jean Marsh seems to relish in her role as the evil Princess Mombi, as she brings a sense of wickedness to her demeanor that can make her seem like quite the fearful antagonist at times.
Overall, "Return to Oz" is arguably one of the most underrated classics of all time that could easily still hold up to today's standards. If you haven't seen it by now, then I would highly recommend it.
MadTV: Wizard of Oz Alternate Ending (Warning: Contains Violence, Adult Language and Suggestive Themes. Parental Discretion is Advised)
© 2014 Steven Escareno
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