Movie Review: Oz The Great and Powerful

Oz

STARRING: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff, Joey King, Bill Cobbs, Tony Cox, Abigail Spencer, Bruce Campbell

WRITTEN BY: Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire

DIRECTED BY: Sam Raimi

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far… in Kansas, there lived a man named Oscar (James Franco) who was a hack magician that dreamed of being greater than he currently was. Then, in came a tornado that sweeps him away, leaving behind his assistant (Zach Braff), and two girls he might like to sleep with (Abigail Spencer/Michelle Williams) only to find himself in the magical land of Oz. Once in Oz, he realizes that his name is also Oz (if he abbreviates it), and then Theodora (Mila Kunis) tells him that he is there to fulfill a prophecy. A prophecy that a great wizard would come and destroy the wicked witch, and set all right in the world of Oz. Of course, Oscar uses his abilities to woo women on Theodora, who falls in love with him, and thinks she is going to be his queen. Which upsets her when he flirts also with her sister, Evanora (Rachel Weisz). Also along the way, Oscar saves a monkey named Finley (voiced coincidentally by Zach Braff) who becomes his assistant. Oscar is then charged with killing the wicked witch, Glenda (Michelle Williams) and saving the day. Of course, anyone who knows The Wizard Of Oz knows that Glenda is a good witch, and also alive later in the story, so something is afoot in Oz.

Afoot indeed. Although the film comes up with a neat storyline, I can’t help but prefer the storyline set forth in Wicked as a better prequel to our favorite Dorothy story. Even with all the cool imagery set up by director Sam Raimi, it can’t help save the story from being only my second favorite Oz prequel. Also, I really didn’t like James Franco in this film. His cocky smile bordered on not knowing what was going on, and often times made us think there wasn’t anything going on upstairs. Franco, who used to be reviled for his acting abilities, has made strides in the past few years with movies like 127 Hours, Howl, and Milk, and his acting in this film just throws him back a decade.

The rest of the cast is fine, though I would border Michelle Williams a tad on overacting. She’s still Marilyn Monroe here, trying desperately to be a good girl and hoping our male lead will love her. The film spends far too long reminding us that Oscar is a bit of a troll, so that way his very small character arc can seem grandiose. Unfortunately, you just feel bored during the exposition, and not until the side characters played by Braff and King are on screen do you really get excited. And, for what its worth, Mila Kunis is excellent as well.

One day, hopefully, Wicked will finally make it to the big screen, and when it does, we will all be able to marvel at a much better, much more thought out story than this one. Taking an ancillary character from Wizard of Oz and making him the lead, and then putting goofy, barely trying James Franco in the role… just didn’t work for me.

FINAL GRADE: C

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Oz The Great and Powerful

  1. Solid review Mac. Some parts are really slow, the story might be just a tad predictable and some visuals looked off, but I still enjoyed the movie for what is was.

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