Thursday, 15 August 2013

'Oz, The Great and Powerful' Film Review

From Disney and the people that brought us Alice in Wonderland and Snow White and the Huntsman comes another fairy tale adaptation, this time focusing on the land of Oz. 

Oscar "Oz" (James Franco) is a magician working in Kansas. Chased by the circus strongman after flirting with his wife, Oz flees in his hot air balloon just as a tornado is brewing. With no way of escape, Oz is sucked in but gets taken to the land of Oz, where he meets witch Theodora (Mila Kunis). She tells him of the prophecy regarding the return of the King of Oz, of which she feels he is the one to fulfill.

Theodora's sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) tempts Oz with the treasure and the throne, which Oz could not refuse and accepts the mission to defeat the Wicked Witch who killed the previous king. But all is not as it seems when the Wicked Witch turns out to be the innocent Glinda (Michelle Williams) who reminds Oz of his love back in Kansas. 

Oz must restore the land of Oz by removing the evil with the help of a flying monkey and a porcelain girl.

The black and white opening sequence worked well and aided the artistic style of the movie, enhancing the colourful and vibrant land of Oz. The range of settings (Dark Forest, Emerald City, Porcelain Place) give contrast and offer visual recognition of good vs evil with colour, light and mood.

The film also thematically and visually reflects and references Oz at the time of Dorothy, so whilst she isn't mentioned, themes will crop up that audiences will be familiar with.

Plot wise, the film moved in a rather linear direction and could have done with more twists and turns. The character development was predictable and so was the outcome. 

I personally found the flying monkey rather annoying but this was offset by the more genuine and meaningful character of the porcelain girl. The scene where Oz heals her legs and raises her up parallels the beginning when Oz cannot heal the girl in Kansas, but also the story in the bible when Peter heals the crippled beggar- this is perhaps the most iconic sequence, offering themes of hope which there could and should have been more of throughout the movie.

As the movie reached its climax, no epic battle (like the other fairy tale adaptations) took place but instead a clever (but perhaps convenient) resolve. The ending was sweet and left open ended for a potential sequel.

James Franco- Oz
Mila Kunis- Theodora
Michelle Williams- Glinda
Rachel Weisz- Evanora

James Franco does a good job as Oz, bringing a cheek to the role. The three female leads don't particularly have much room to shine, though Mila Kunis perhaps does the best in bringing a range of emotions as the most diverse witch of the three.

'Oz, The Great and Powerful' offered yet another fairy tale visual feast with an average plot that will surely please the majority of audiences in some way, but lack any sort of grandeur that make it a great movie. With a good cast, the potential sequel will need to rein in the thematic strengths of this movie in order to really connect with the audience's heart.

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