The Movie Scab Reviews: "Oz the Great and Powerful."
"The scab you're picking at is called execution."
--American film producer Scott Rudin.
Monkey Boy gives Oz the Great and Powerful ZERO Acks! out of 5!
Oz the Great and Powerful.
“Debris! We got debris!”
Sam Raimi directed one of the best superhero movies ever made, and that would be Spider-Man 2 (2004), and one of the best horror-comedies ever made, and that would be Evil Dead 2.
A note on the Evil Deads before going on: Evil Dead 1 is a lousy horror movie and I don’t consider it connected in any way that matters to Evil Dead 2 even though Evil Dead 2 is considered a sequel to Evil Dead 1. The truth is, of course, that Evil Dead 2 is a brilliant comedic remake of Evil Dead 1 by the same people who made Evil Dead 1. Evil Dead 2 is virtually the same movie as Evil Dead 1, but the second time around it’s funny, and then there’s the fact that the comedic element of Evil Dead 2 carries on into its true sequel, Army of Darkness. If you look at the trilogy as a whole, the odd film out is Evil Dead 1 because it’s not funny. Now, you can argue whether or not Evil Dead 1 is connected to Evil Dead 2, but regardless, as a standalone film, Evil 2 is simply pure horror-comedy gold.
And now Sam Raimi, director of the brilliant Spider-Man 2 and Evil Dead 2, has directed one of the worst movies of 2013 (so far).
What makes it so unwatchable? Is it the lack of wonder it instills? The stilted, unconvincing performances of James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams? The retread plot and goofy makeup effects? The nauseating and pointless scenes shot expressly for 3D?
Let’s start with the plot:
Have you ever seen The Wizard of Oz, the one made back in 1939? If you have, then you’ve seen Oz the Great and Powerful.
Like Evil Dead 1 and Evil Dead 2, Oz 1 and Oz 2 are virtually the same movie. Shuffle some old characters around, add new characters and scenery and follow the Yellow Brick Road to Remake Road: just like Oz 1, Oz 2 opens in black and white and our protagonist, the con-artist magician Oz, is swept up in a tornado, lands in the colorful Land of Oz, meets a good witch, some bad witches, a town full of singing and dancing Munchkins, the Emerald City, the Yellow Brick Road and at the end, after Oz defeats the wicked witches, hands out awards to the heroes.
Now, the screenwriters Mitchell Kapner (The Whole Nine Yards) and David Linsday-Abaire (Rabbit Hole) and everyone else (Sam Raimi, the producers and Disney) decided early on to connect this movie to the 1939 original because it’s clear that this movie is, without doubt, connected to the 1939 original, visually, thematically, musically.
Which leads me and Monkey Boy to wonder about this (color us crazy):
In Oz 2 the colorful Wizard is black and white Oscar Digg's, a small-time circus magician played by James Franco.
In Oz 1, the Wizard turned out to be the black and white “Professor Marvel,” an elderly man that black and white Dorothy bumped into after she ran away from the farm and before she got sucked into the tornado and the colorful Land of Oz where she eventually met the colorful Wizard, who, as it turned out, was the black and white Professor Marvel.
Now, remember, everyone Dorothy encounters in black and white life eventually crosses her path in colorized Oz, a.k.a., Dorothy’s colorful “dreamland.”
She’s dreaming, people.
Just to be very clear: the reason the colorized Wizard of Oz is black and white Professor Marvel in Oz 1 is simply because black and white Dorothy met the black and white Professor before getting knocked unconscious by tornado debris (“We got debris!”) and started dreaming up colorized Oz.
This means the Wizard from Oz 2 cannot be the Wizard from Oz 1 because, because, because…
1.) Oz 1 showed us where the wizard came from—black and white Dorothy met black and white Professor Marvel on the road. And 2.) You can’t have an origin story about the Wizard of Oz without including black and white Dorothy from Oz 1 and black and white Dorothy is nowhere to be found in Oz 2.
I mean, think about it: How can Oscar Digg's Oz be exactly like Dorothy’s Oz?
Oz 1 was Dorothy’s invention. Oz 2 is Oscar Digg’s invention and everything should be different, but nooooo! It’s all the same!
The truth is, of course, that the folks who made Oz 1 back in 1939 wanted the audience to understand—clearly—that black and white Dorothy’s adventures in the colorful Land of Oz took place in her very own colorized dreaming brain. But L. Frank Baum’s interpretation of why Oz exists is different from the 1939 filmmakers’ vision. The 2013 screenwriters used Baum’s authentic “Wizard origin story” and applied it to the movie reality.
And that's why we have a logic problem. But I can it solve it for them.
For it to work in Oz 2, the only way Oscar Digg’s can dream of the exact same place that Dorothy dreamed up is to be, in fact, Dorothy. Perhaps this is what Sam Raimi and the screenwriters are getting at anyway. Diggs is Dorothy. Dorothy is Diggs. Perhaps they're suggesting that Dorothy had serious sexual identity issues.
Finally, I don’t often pick on actors, and I respect the actors in Oz 2—they’ve all proven that they can, indeed, act and act well. But this time around I’ve just got to ask: Was everyone on Ambien? Zoloft? A thorazine drip? Was the check so huge it turned your brains into unsalted porridge? Or did you simply cash that huge check and then phone it in because you didn’t care? Monkey Boy and I didn’t connect with a single character—that’s bad (and not our fault). I couldn’t have cared less about any of them.
And what was with Mila Kunis? Did she think she was in a George Lucas Star Wars movie? Is that why she didn’t have any depth of character? She looked lost most of the time, like she was staring off camera and thinking, “How can I get myself out of this movie?” I heard that line every time she screamed as the wicked witch, and she screamed a lot, so much it made me want to leave the theatre: “Aaaaah!” meant “Get me out of this picture/theatre!”
And what about that ridiculous wicked witch green makeup? Holy crap, I haven’t seen makeup that obvious since Cloud Atlas (2012) and that bad since Frequency (2000), and I really love and respect makeup artists, dammit!
My rating: find a Karaoke bar and sing as many Michael Jackson songs from The Wiz as you can while drinking straight Jack Daniels--from the bottle. Keep singing but add Oz 1 and Oz 2 to the lyrics just to confuse everyone. Follow that with a number of Jager Bombs, then Irish Car Bombs after that. Now add Evil Dead 1, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn and Army of Darkness to The Wiz lyrics, singing in a Jackson falsetto and grabbing your crotch every time you belt out Oz 1 and Oz 2, really screw with their logic. Finally, shout out, "We got debris!" At that point you should be so blottoed that you pass out and do not go to the movie.