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“Oz the Great and Powerful”
Rated PG for sequences of action and scary images, and brief mild language.
Release date: March 8
Runtime: 130 min
No rating this week
As a child I was a huge fan of “The Wizard of Oz,” watching it every time it was on TV. Let’s face it; I’m still a big fan. I also adored Broadway’s “Wicked,” the stage version that serves as a prequel to the original.
But with Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” we get a totally different version with allusions to the original but following a different story.
Oz is a womanizing magician with a traveling circus. He gets swept up in a tornado and lands in a magical colorful land much different from his black and white world of Kansas.
When he lands, he is assumed to be a great wizard who is prophesied to defeat evil in the land. As he travels, he is challenged to change his ways and truly become a good man. He also has to figure out which witch is which and determine the good from the bad.
I have to confess, because of power outages and the threat of a storm Tuesday night, I did not get to see the ending of this film at the screening in Louisville.
But from the hour and a half I did see I can tell you a few things.
The 3-D visuals are stunning. Director Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man” trilogy) skillfully uses technology to turn this magical land into an enchanting dreamscape.
Something that puzzles me is the popularity of James Franco (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) in Hollywood. I can’t put my finger on it but his performances in most films, including this one, are lacking. It’s like watching a kid pretending to act. His performance hard to buy into.
The women in this film act circles around him. Mila Kunis (“Ted”), Rachel Weisz (“The Bourne Legacy”) and even Michelle Williams (“My Week with Marilyn”), who I normally feel is overrated, all gave great performances as the witches of Oz.
The characters Franco meets along the way, a bellhop flying monkey voiced by Zach Braff (TV’s “Scrubs”) and a broken China doll voiced by Joey King (“The Dark Knight Rises”), are enchanting and make you care about the journey despite Franco’s performance.
The story doesn’t connect all the dots you would like to see in an Oz prequel like the Broadway musical “Wicked” does. It uses images and characters from the original story but the story stands on its own as a different film.
Parents also should note the flying monkeys are much scarier than they were in 1939.
“Oz the Great and Powerful” is colorful and enchanting trip back to Oz but for me nothing can replace the original. I am told the film picks up and has a fantastic ending. I’ll just have to see it again to find that out.
Because I didn’t see the entire film I don’t think it’s fair to give a meter level rating on this one. “Oz the Great and Powerful” is enchanting enough to go back to theaters to catch the ending I missed, despite Franco’s poor performance.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley @thenewsenterprise.com. For movie reviews visit her reporter page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Becca-Owsley/96924584861.