Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)


No midgets hung themselves during the filming of this movie.

James Franco stars as Oscar, a small-time circus magician who is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz. There, he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Oscar must put his magical arts to use through illusion, through a bit of wizardry slowly transforming himself into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz he was destined to be after all.

Alright, let’s face it: we weren’t awaiting for a whole new-look at Oz, and hell, we weren’t even anticipating this movie; but dammit, it feels so good to be back. The first couple of previews for this movie made it seem as if it was just another, CGI-filled trip that was more like the recent Alice in Wonderland-debacle, than anywhere near a genuine piece of cinema, but thankfully, that’s where Sam Raimi comes in, and thank the movie heavens for him. However, anybody expecting a Drag Me to Hell or Evil Dead Raimi, are going to be surely disappointed. This is Raimi at his most kiddie-ish, and whether or not you are down for that; is most likely going to affect your whole feeling on this movie.

For me, I didn’t mind that Raimi was gunning for the kids/families, because it’s Oz, and I highly doubt people would want to go see Oz hanging out with Ash, and going around and sawwing-off zombies with a chainsaw instead of a limb. Like Bryan Singer pulled that last week, it may lose some respect from the people that love and praise you the most, but in this world and in this business: you can’t please everybody. Thankfully, the man pleased me and that was more than enough. Okay, I just realized that came out wrong but you get what I’m saying.

"Dammit. I knew I should have just kept the snake in the cage until I left this place."
“Dammit. I knew I should have just kept the snake in the cage until I left this place.”

What I liked so much about Raimi’s direction is that no matter what the problem may be with this story, with these characters, or with the ideas, the movie is always stunning to view. I got the humble chance to see this in 3-D (with some fancy schmancy glasses, thank you for that, Allied) and it was breath-taking because you can totally tell that whoever designed this movie, did it with love and with a great attention to detail. Throughout the whole 2 hours and some-odd minutes, you really do feel as if you are right there, stuck in this world of Oz there with all of these wondrous, and crazy characters, whether they be creatures, flying monkeys, witches, magicians, or people pretending to be magicians, and it was a place that I was happy to be in. Even when the start-off with the strange ratio in the old-school, black-and-white look, it was still beautiful and felt more than just a mindless gimmick.

I don’t know if that was because of the look, the feel, the characters, or what, but what I do know is that this movie is beautiful and you can totally tell that Raimi and company really put a lot of effort into the look of this film, and to make it work. It isn’t just pretty to take your eyes off of what’s supposed to be a plot, but it’s there to ease your eyes and have you go, “Woah. Ooh. Aaah.” Whether or not you’re the person who likes the shell-out a couple of extra bucks for 3-D, I’d say go for it, but don’t come complaining to me if you can handle that extra-dimension. It’s what it promises on the package, baby.

But it’s not like this movie is only good for the visuals, the story itself is pretty cool too. As a kid, I loved the hell out of the Wizard of Oz and always wondered what it was like before Dorothy and Toto came-around and shook things up a bit. I finally got that view, and Raimi provides a nice world that is easy to get used to, even if some of it does seem a bit like filler. But filler is fine with me as long as it’s fun, entertaining, and enjoyable while it lasts, and that’s something I have to give a lot of credit to Raimi for: he brought me back to this world and gave me a good time. Come to think about it, isn’t that what going to the movies are all about? Being transported into a different world where all of your wildest and craziest imaginations could, and just might come true? I think that’s what the social-act of “going to the movies” is all about, and what makes it better is that this time, the world you are transported to, just so happens to be Oz. Oh yeah.

What surprised me the most about this movie is how strong and fun it started-off. I felt as if there was a real sense of joy and display of entertainment to be entertained-by, but somehow, the film loses it’s way and found myself actually losing interest the story. Yeah, I can’t explain it and if I do, I’ll just end up running into spoiler-territory but something was just not working for me. It almost felt as if the movie had all of these intentions to get our minds, right off the bat, and then stopped caring much about the story as it continued to trug-along and that’s where I found myself forgetting what was going on, why characters were doing certain things, and just what were all of these crazy witches jabbering on about.

Maybe a film like this that takes place in Oz and is only meant for kids, isn’t really something that’s worth to be all that thought-about and studied as if it was my Junior Year research paper (still haven’t gotten my grade for that either), but to me, that shows a problem. A problem not just with the story or the screenplay, but with the direction and how Raimi begins to lose a bit of focus. Instead of making this movie just one, joyous adventure after another, the movie continues to pile on, more and more explanation and exposition to the story, when in reality, all we needed to know was: witches are evil, Oz is good, people need saving, and that’s why he is there. That’s all we needed, but the movie continues to ramble on with random shite that makes no sense and doesn’t need to when you have a movie that takes place in Oz. Just give me fun, delight, happiness, jokes, witches, magicians, flying monkeys, and dwarves. That’s it. Nothing more and sure as hell, nothing less.

"Hotness! Be summoned!
“Hotness! Be summoned!

Other than the fact that the movie adds a bit more than it should have, what has really surprised me the most about this movie is how it’s already being received. And by “being received”, I mean James Franco and his performance as Oz. Personally, I think the guy nailed what it was like to be a big, old cheap-o of a magician that doesn’t have a care in the world, is selfish, egotistical, a womanizer, and a bit of a d-bag. I thought, if anything, Franco nailed that aspect of that character down like-pat and really made me believe that such a schlub of a guy like Oz, could actually turn his life around and be the grand wizard all of these people expect him to be. Yes, the already-wanted Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp would have been a lot better for this role, but with Franco, he gives it his all and if anything, deserves some praise and kudos for going balls-deep in this role and not coming off like a member of the Dull Party, like he usually comes off as. Even though you may not hear this from many others, James, I just would like to say: good job and keep-up the good work. Don’t let them haters get yo ass down. Holla.

The supporting cast around him, also do fine jobs, even if some are better than others, which shows as well. Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis, and Michelle Williams play the three witches of Oz, who all do fine, except for the gal who plays the Wicked Witch. Even though Disney themselves already shot-themselves in the foot with this one and spoiled who the actual witch was, I refuse to give it away and say who. But, the person that they do end-up with seems a bit miscast, almost as if she put way, way too much emphasis on the yelling and cackling. The story as to why that chick becomes the Wicked Witch, is pretty interesting (Oz is a pimp daddy, fo sho), but the development of that certain character and how she acts so pissed was a tad annoying and made me just want to shoe her away. Maybe that was the point after all, but I was more annoyed of the chick, than scared. Unlike when I was a kid and nearly pissed my Spider-Man pj’s every time THAT Wicked Witch came around. God, she was a scary woman.

It was also nice to see Zach Braff back in action as Finley, Oz’s trusty side-kick who also happens to be a talking-monkey, since the guy hasn’t been around much. Also, I’m a huge fan of Scrubs so whatever the guy had to say, in whatever which way, always had me howling at the moon. Oh, and yes, for all of you die-hard Raimi fans out there, Bruce Campbell does show his wonderful-self in this movie, but it’s in a role that may surprise you, but more because you did not even know it was him and was such a small-role for the guy. Granted, a Bruce Campbell cameo is better than no Bruce Campbell cameo, but at least it could have been more epic and cool, considering I was waiting for him the whole time. Disappointment, disappointment.

Consensus: Though Raimi bites-off a bit more than he could ever possibly chew with some of this classic-material, Oz the Great and Powerful is still a fun, beautiful, and enjoyable trip back to the world we all loved when were kids, and will feel even happier to pass it on down to the next-generation of go-getters who still have no idea what tapping your ruby slippers are all about. Silly Y-Generation children.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Hey, I know they're sissies and all, but would it be so wrong to just ask for a tiny peck?
Hey, I know they’re sissies and all, but would it be so wrong to just ask for a tiny peck? I’ll cover the kid’s eyes…?
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53 comments

  1. I was going to go see this at the Imax with friends tonight until I realized I had less money in the bank than I thought I had. So no movie for me. After next Friday (not tomorrow) I should be able to catch it.

  2. I’m really excited to see this, and your review has only made me more excited. Nicely written. I’ll let you know what I think after I see it 🙂

  3. I’ve been really torn on this one. On the one hand I love Raimi but on the other this looks much more like a Burton flick than anything I expect from him. Then there are the reviews, nearly all of the faceless ones negative but a few of the people I trust (like yourself) are giving it a solid thumbs up. Might have to just pony up the cash and take the trip for myself. Thanks for the review!

  4. Oh I have to go see this. My daughter wanted to go see it as her birthday movie so we’ll all be carted to the movies to enjoy this piece of the story I’ve loved for years!

  5. I was really disappointed when I first read that James Franco was going to be the lead in this. He’s one of those actors that just rubs me the wrong way and turns me off of a film.

  6. Wonderfully written review, Dan. I was a bit surprised when I saw you gave it a 7/10. The “low” points must have been a little lower than what I was sensing from you. On the parts you said you were losing interest, was that more toward the beginning, middle or end? Just curious to see if I get the same feeling. I’m hoping to take my mom to see this, she loves Wizard of Oz.

  7. I’m pretty excited about the witches but Franco seems like such a miscast to me. Plus his Oz appears to be a giant douche and I heard he is a selfish heartbreaker, no way I’m caring for a main character like that.

  8. It’s a good review. One thing though, you know that no midgets hung themselves during the original Wizard of Oz right? The scene that everybody talks about there being someone hanging in the background is really a bird. They had all sorts of exotic birds that they borrowed from the zoo on the set and they let them roam around to make the forrest look even more exotic.

  9. Nice work here, Dan. I too was a little put off by the inclusion of Franco in the lead role, due mainly to that too-laid-back attitude he always seems to give off, but if given the right project he nails it (127 Hours, Rise of the Planet of The Apes). That said, nothing about the trailers for this fills me with any kind of joy or warm-fuzzy delight that Hollywood’s made another Oz film. Reminds me too much of Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, which was all CGI and very little anything else. Still, I’ll give this a shot come Blu-Ray time, see if I change my mind.

    • Definitely give it a look because it’s a fun, enjoyable movie. But I hear ya on the Alice in Wonderland comparisons, that’s what had me so scared. Thanks bud!

  10. I agree with you that it stars off good and I it actually has a nice ending too. Then there’s that middle section that should’ve been edited. 30 minutes cut would’ve made a would of difference. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either.

  11. I had no issues with the “lag” or the end, Dan, I thought it kept its footing well and provided a top notch piece of family entertainment. Its certainly no threat to be compared favorably to the original, but for a March movie? This was pretty decent!

  12. Wow, you enjoyed this quite a bit more than I did, heh. Maybe it was because I didn’t see it in 3D, but I found the visuals very underwhelming, which was a shame since they were what I was most looking forward to. Guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. I didn’t quite enjoy my stay in Oz this time. 😛

  13. I agree that the actress who ends up being the wicked witch (which was spoiled for me on imdb before I went and saw it) wasn’t the right person. You menton that there was a foucus on the wicked witch was the yelling and cackling and for me I wouldnt have minded it too much if it was closer to what I hear in my head when thinking of the original Oz movie. It just wasnt the right cackle. Great review Dan, we seemed to agree on most parts.

  14. First, I have to go ahead and get this out of the way. I hate horror Raimi. Evil Dead blows my mind with how cheesy and unfunny it is and how people love it so. Drag Me to Hell was just bad. I prefer Raimi when he’s not doing that cheesy crap. Spider-man was great. Even Love for the Game was infinitely better than his horror films.

    That out of the way, I’m excited a bit to see this one. Even if they script turns out a bit weak, I know there will be good acting. And most importantly, we get to have fun going back to the Land of Oz. Everything I’ve seen from the trailers look good and I’m just looking forward to see that world expanded upon and the visual treat.

  15. deym I was also planning to watch this on 3D, but I had to move to the 2D screening because my movie buddy was running late.

    I can actually say that I enjoyed watching the film, and I was thankful that it didn’t ruin The Wizard of Oz that I knew. I’m not sure with how I feel about the CGI though as there were some parts where I got detached from the feeling of actually being in Oz because of a few special effects blunders. I have to admit though that I actually mouthed “wow” when the film transitioned from black and white to full-color, because you can get the strange feeling that you also just landed on Oz yourself.

    James Franco did his job well, although I can imagine more fun with Johnny Depp. But then again, JD’s acting is already predictable, so I guess James Franco’s okay.

    Good review as usual Dan! 🙂

  16. I have to go with the negatives here Dan. Glad it wowed some but as I said if you’re going to bring kids they will like it but not much do adults. James Franco has done and hopefully will do a lot better again. This he should leave off his resume.

  17. This movie slowly lost my interest. I loved the visuals, for one, and that was THE standout. But Mila Kunis was pretty bad as the Wicked Witch of the West. Though I think the biggest disappointment was when the woman in the row in front of us told my friends and me to shut up. 😉 One of my friends was so bored, he was trying to look for any sort of symbolism in the movie! haha!

  18. Nice review as always Dan! I didn’t find the Wicked Witch in this movie terrifying at all where the original Wicked Witch of the West still terrifies me to this day and I agree, Mila Kunis was certainly the weakest of the bunch. When I reviewed this yesterday, I forgot to mention how much I liked the cute China Doll girl while briefly mentioning how much I liked Finley who I thought for sure would’ve been a character that I wanted to get the f*ck out whenever he showed up because he was so freakin’ annoying. The Bruce Campbell cameo I didn’t even catch even though I knew he was to appear at some point because his name showed up in the opening credits. Speaking of which, I loved the 4:3 black and white ratio to the whole screen with color, that was one of the awesome nods I enjoyed to the original. All in all, despite a couple flaws, I actually LOVED this movie. As said before, nice review as always!

  19. Nice review, Dan. I think Raimi did a decent enough job. In a lot of respects he was on a hiding to nothing but it’s a decent enough movie and the kids absolutely loved it, which is kinda important for a family movie! I guess now, two days later, the only line I can really remember was the mooing monkey so perhaps it’s pretty forgetable in the end.

  20. We’re going to see this on Sunday. I’m glad it’s enjoyable enough. We’ll see it in 2D though, not willing to pay for the 3D and it gives a couple of us headaches.

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