Return to Oz (1964)
Return to Oz (1964)
Directors: F.R. Crawley, Thomas Glynn, Larry Roemer
Writers: L. Frank Baum, Romeo Muller
Voice Cast: Larry D. Mann, Alfie Scopp, Carl Banas, Susan Morse, Peggi Loder, Susan Conway
Synopsis: Rather than adapt a later or create a new Oz story, this production has Dorothy still in posession of the shoes, and she clings to an apple tree during a tornado which takes her back to Oz. The Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Lion (using the names created for the nearly-abstract television series, Tales of the Wizard of Oz, from which this was derived) have had their MGM gifts destroyed by the restored Wicked Witch, and the four proceed to the Wizard for help, who is ineffectual as usual.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Note: In honor of the recently released "Oz: The Great and Powerful", the upcoming "Dorothy of Oz", and the currently in development remake of "The Wizard of Oz", I've taken it upon myself to review ever Oz film adaptation ever conceived; with the notable exception of all the TV shows and mini-series because there's simply too much of it.
Return to Oz Intro
Arguably one of the worst TV movies that I've ever seen...
Although "Star Wars: Holiday Special" still ranks as the worst TV movie that I've ever had the dishonor of seeing, this made for TV film about "Oz" is nearly just as bad. Granted, there's nothing in the movie that's bad for kids per say; unlike the questionable Wookie scene in the "Star Wars" holiday film....(shudders)...
However, everything in this film is very forgettable, and kind of boring to even watch. Unlike the other "Oz" adaptations, this one doesn't even attempt to try to tell it's own story. Granted, I can understand that Rankin Bass productions didn't want to adapt one of L. Frank Baum's books based on Oz, but they didn't even have the common decency to come up with their own story at least, to make it unique in some way.
If anything, all this TV film does is rip off almost everything that happens in the original "Wizard of Oz"; while putting in a few scenario changes here and there, to suggest to the audience that this is supposed to be a sequel to original story. However, they might as well had made this be a straight remake or retelling of "The Wizard of Oz", as it literally rips off everything from it; without even attempting to do anything different.
After she gets a letter from the scarecrow allegedly, we see Dorothy reminiscing about her days in Oz, as she sings some song about how much she'd like to go back there. However, a terrible tornado comes, as she's forced to hang onto to dear life on an apple tree with her dog, Toto. Like the original, she gets whooshed away to the land of Oz again, where the munchkins greet her again.
She learns from Glinda that supposedly the Wicked Witch of the West has come back to life, and she's vowed revenge by taking away all the gifts our heroes earned originally; such as the scarecrow's brain, the tin man's heart, and the lion's courage.
Like the original, we see each of Dorothy's friend sing their collective songs about how it sucks to not have a heart, brain...and etc. And like the original story, we see our heroes march to the emerald city, and blah blah. If you've seen the original 1939 film, then you pretty much know how this animated supposed sequel turns out, as it clearly just rips off the first one. Granted, there's a few scenario changes here and there, but most of it is nothing more than a straight rip off.
The songs are fairly plain and generic. None of them are memorable, and quite frankly feel forced half the time. Like when the wicked witch and wizard start debating on who's more powerful, they both go off on some bulls**** song singing on who's the best. Not only was the song terrible to listen to because of the voices of the actors involved sound flat to where it doesn't even seem like the voice actors are trying to put in a good performance, but it felt forced to be quite honest. And the worst part is, that's arguably one of the best songs in this whole damn movie....
The animation is fairly reminiscent of what you might see in such TV shows like "Rocky and Bullwinkle" and "Underdog"; minus all the charm. However, even with the crummy animation of those TV shows, they at least brought something new that audiences have never seen before; which made them highly memorable for people to watch.
Whereas this remake, it offers virtually nothing more than pure brand recognition for the audience to buy into. Granted, Rankin Bass productions has been infamously known for those popular stop motion holiday specials such as "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" and etc. Plus, they even had a hand in the animated films "The Hobbit" and "Return of the King"; all of which gave the viewer at least something to remember about each film whether you liked them or not.
But with this animated TV movie, "Return to Oz", there's nothing about it that's even worth remembering about it. It's a mediocre TV film that's trying to cash in on the brand recognition of "The Wizard of Oz"; while putting forth zero effort to try to entertain it's audience with anything new or exciting.
Therefore, if this film won't even try to do SOMETHING new to entertain it's viewers, then I won't even try to find anything good about it either. And even if I did try to find something good about it, I doubt I'd find anything if at all. In the end, I'd give this film a zero out of four. Worst "Oz" adaptation ever made.