Oz the Great and Powerful
From: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: March 8, 2013
Director: Sam Raimi
Rating: 3½ out of 5 stars
Disney’s fantastical adventure Oz The Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved wizard character. When Oscar Diggs, a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot-fame and fortune are his for the taking- that is until he meets three witches, Theodora, Evanora, and Glinda, who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity- and even a bit of wizardry- Oscar transforms himself not only into the great wizard but into a better man as well.
First things first, Oz the Great and Powerful is a gorgeous movie. Oz is a land of impossible creatures, vibrant flowers, impossible landscapes. We did not watch it in 3D, but even so, it was a magical, colorful land.
This is a family movie and it’s more or less a prequel to The Wizard of Oz we all know. I’ve never read the books, so can’t make an comparisons with them. All of us are so familiar with the original movie, that we aren’t surprised by the wicked witch, by the flying monkeys, or the Emerald city. It even takes the first’s transition from black-and-white Kansas to full-color Oz and repeats it. There was a little kid in the row behind us, though, who must have never seen the original and it was so cute hearing his exclamations and questions. There’s a joy and surprise the first time we see stories like this and in a way I miss it. What if I knew nothing about Oz or the wizard or the witches? Would I have been amazed?
Several of the characters are familiar, of course, and I liked Oscar. He’s a womanizer, a con man, but he wants to be great. His trip to Oz gives him that chance. I guess the movie is about learning who you are, who you can be, and becoming who you want to be. The witches are pretty tough ladies, each in her own way. The Wicked Witch is downright scary, although the reason for her evilness seemed a little flimsy to me. Glinda is as good and beautiful and ethereal as is expected. If it weren’t Oz, the characters would be over the top, too much, not believable, but that’s what they are and here it’s perfect.
I have to admit that one of my favorite characters was a CGI one, the china girl. Fragile, alone since her family and entire village were killed, she’s brave and willing to help Oscar in his quest. Of course, when I was little I would spend hours playing with china figures, so I might be a little biased.
Oz the Great and Powerful is a fun romp. It’s not the classic that The Wizard of Oz is, but it’s an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.