By Sandra Kraisirideja
“Oz the Great and Powerful” has impressive visual effects but this isn’t enough to keep the movie interesting.
The movie, directed by Sam Raimi and starring James Franco, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis, tells the origin story of the Wizard of Oz (Franco) and how he came to preside over the land that shares his name. It wouldn’t be off the mark to call this a “pre-quel” to the “Wizard of Oz.”
Unlike the novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of The Wicked Witch of the West”—which expanded on the “Wizard of Oz” mythology with a sympathetic tale of the Wicked Witch’s early years as a teenage outsider—”Oz the Great and Powerful” doesn’t offer an interesting take on the wizard’s background.
Oz is a circus magician and con man with an unending appetite for female companionship. He’s not a particularly nice or decent fellow. Oz is also transported to the land of Oz during a tornado and Raimi plays homage to the original 1939 movie by beginning in black-and-white and them moving to color once Oz arrives in Oz.
The use of this nifty effect is an example of the movie’s lack of originality. Even the introduction of the three witches, played by Weisz, Williams and Kunis, is not very compelling.
The 1939 “Wizard of Oz” is filled with iconic imagery, from the yellow brick road to Dorothy’s ruby red slippers. In “Oz the Great and Powerful,” we get to see more of the land of Oz and its quite breathtaking. The production design reminded me of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “Edward Scissorhands.”
These scenes take place in the first hour and after that the story, thin as it is, takes over and the movie loses a lot of momentum. It’s really a shame that Raimi didn’t use this opportunity to create something more memorable.