“The Wizard of Oz” is a story that most of us are probably familiar with, and many of us have witnessed at least once, if not more, adaptions to the story whether by film, on stage, or any of the other mediums this story seems to have wiggled itself into. During this time where we find ourselves hounded by remakes, reboots, sequels and prequels, I can’t say I’m particularly surprised that this film came to fruititon, but did anyone really want it to come? It seems like the land of Oz just keeps coming back, trying to make a big splash in the film industry like the original musical did, but, unfortunately, this film didn’t really seem to do that. Like most of the “Wizard of Oz” adaptions, I must say that this could have been better.
“Oz the Great and Powerful” is a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz” about a young, struggling magician known as Oz (James Franco, Spiderman) trying to make it big. After he is whisked away in a hot air balloon, he finds himself in a mystical land known as Oz. There, he soon meets Theodora (Mila Kunis, Ted), who tells him of a prophecy foretlling the arrival of a wizard bearing the same name as their land who is meant to bring peace to the people and end the reign of the evil witch. Oz, wanting to be a great man, goes along with the belief that he is the savior of the land and promises to vanqish the evil witch with the friends he makes along the way, including a talking monkey, Finley (Zack Braff, Scrubs), and a porcelain doll (Joey King, Crazy Stupid Love).
To me, this film seemed as if it were cut with a cookie cutter. There isn’t much about it that isn’t cliche or unexpected, and a lot of it is quite similar to the original “Wizard of Oz” film. It’s a classic tale of a man whose life isn’t where he wants to be because of dishonesty and greed, who eventually turns his life around and saves the day. It may be enjoyable for children, but as an adult, I have to say it lacked luster.
Another issue I found with the film was its choice in casting, particularly the choice of Mila Kunis. Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s a great actress and I enjoyed her performances in “That 70’s Show” and “Ted”, but I was embarrassed for her in this movie. Her character has an anger and jealousy issue, and she doesn’t do angry well. Her counterpart, Rachel Weisz, was impeccable as always, but having them both in the same scene, it’s easy to see who was out of her element.
So all in all, it wasn’t increidbly horrible, but “Oz the Great and Powerful” could have been way better. It’s a great film for children, as it features a simple plotline and captivating colors, but for adults, it’s a swing and a miss. In a few years it’ll fall into the lap of some young, edgy director who sees it as a dark, twisted tale, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. The fact of the matter is that the orignal story doesn’t have a large or loyal enough fanbase to bring a great, epic reboot about, so until then I think the few of you who really do want the story to be told in a modern way should hope for a film adaption of “Wicked” first. (“Wicked” is set for a 2014 release date, but it has no official names attached to it to my knowledge, although Stephen Daldry is in talks, so you should probably expect either the end of 2014, or a 2015 release date if it happens at all.)
“Oz the Great and Powerful” is rated PG for sequences of action and scary images (mostly involving flying baboons and, of course, a green witch) and brief mild language (mild profanity including “damn” and “God.”)