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Powerfully Fun – A review of Oz the Great and Powerful
Summary: This updating of the classic Wizard of Oz from director Sam Raimi is fun to watch. You'll get a kick from the scenes that are inspired by the original 1939 classic.
James Franco is certainly not the first actor to come to mind to play the great wizard of Oz, but he steps into the shoes majestically in this updating of the classic movie franchise by director Sam Raimi (the classic Spiderman trilogy).
Much like the 1939 classic, the movies opens in turn of the century Kansas as we watch, in black and white, as Franco falters with his audience as a carnival magician. Escaping the wrath of his fellow carnies, he dives into a hot air balloon and is whisked by tornado into a magical Technicolor world featuring witches, talking dolls and flying monkeys.
And what beautiful witches we have here, too. Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams step into the pivotal roles in attempts to steer the “wizard” to their own agendas.
All Franco wants is to be considered a great man. He’ll get the opportunity to prove himself when the witches Theodora (Kunis) and Evanora (Weisz) begin to wreak havoc on the residents of the peaceful kingdom.
Glinda (Williams), on the other hand, pushes Oz to find his greatness within and, like the original tale and Dorothy so many years ago, He discovers something in himself that he never realized existed. And that is the true magic of a story like this.
Raimi’s vision conjures up memories of the older Oz movie. Included are his interpretation of the Emerald city, the guards, the flying monkeys (who are actually much more frightening, thanks to the updated CGI enhancements) and even visionary scenes virtually ripped from the original movie and reproduced for the modern audience.
I was actually amused to see familiar scenes like the iconic crystal ball that Margaret Hamilton used to spy on Judy Garland and her friends. Then there’s the poppy field that plays a pivotal role in this story. Even a statue of Glinda’s father looks eerily like Frank Morgan who played the original wizard all those years ago.
But that’s the magic of Raimi. He can undertake the arduous task of bringing an iconic classic like the original Wizard of Oz back to life in an entirely new incarnation and wow an entirely new audience in ways that must be seen to be imagined.
The movie isn’t without flaws, though. While the evil witches get their comeuppances, their fates are not sealed in this installment. That leaves the question of whether Raimi will undertake the task of updating the classic movie too. If so, I can’t think of a better director to try.
I give Oz the Great and Powerful 4-1/2 out of 5 stars.