Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful: The Re(al) - view

Oz: I don't want to be a good man... I want to be a great one.
I know James Franco ought to be the wizard in this context, but Sam Raimi (director) takes the crown as the master of illusion in this awesome piece of family entertainment, accompanied by stunning visual effects that can only come from the same team that brought you Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, 2012, Raimi's Spiderman trilogy, Beowulf and much more - they are called Sony Pictures Imageworks.

Oz the Great and Powerful started off in cropped black & white, a genius move if I may say, as it immediately captured my interest, and it felt original (of course an homage to the 1939 film.) The segue from black & white to colour almost eluded me because of how deeply interested in the story; that and the beautiful/amazing visual effects used to depict Oz (the land), beautiful mise en scène, beautiful!

Raimi the Great and Powerful
But upon Oz's (the magician/wizard) arrival to the mythical land of Oz, the script began to come apart and the entirety of the movie somehow relied upon the personal charm of James Franco (Oz, yep he's that awesome) and the amazing support cast. But even Franco was not convincing enough especially at the turning point of the movie, you know the part where he is supposed to step up and be the hero, the supposed reason for him to stay behind to fight a couple of actual witches was not concrete giving that he was a narcissist. His on-screen chemistry with Michelle Williams (Glinda, the Good Witch of the South) was quite awful, it was bland, and felt rigid at times compared to his and Mila Kunis (Theodora, eventually Wicked Witch of the West) which had sparks flying all over the place. As for Rachel Weisz (Evanora, Wicked Witch of the East) was quite brilliant in how she managed her character's persona; but seriously, what sort of land do they all just go with the whim that a guy that fell off the sky is the saviour and eventual king without any sort of verification! The honour and riches attached to the throne proves to expensive to go by the word of mouth (and a few illusions), C'mon that's weak story telling.

As for the, well, second support cast you know the flying monkey, the living china doll, and Knuck! Of this bunch, I'd have to say my favourite is Knuck (portrayed by Tony Cox) as he's scenes felt fresh and energetic, especially with the fact that his character was never really a subordinate to Oz (the magician), and this made their scenes quite interesting to watch. Unfortunately, Finley (portrayed by Zach Braff) the flying monkey was supposed to play a similar role, you know the voice of reason for every (immoral) decision Oz takes; but the character came out as too subordinate and submissive, a quality that damaged the relationship between magician and monkey. As for China Girl (portrayed by Joey King) the living china doll, she was really impressive with the way she handled herself ensuring that her character was not overshadowed by Franco's bloated character, a fate Braff's Finley suffered.

But Raimi had a trick up his sleeve, the final act of Oz (the wizard) was quite brilliant - and awesome! Sam Raimi made this movie really fun and entertaining with just the right amount of scariness - Theodora's transformation, the baboons need I say more? And while Franco's depiction may have seemed too rigid, I still think he's the right man, because at the end you get to see that cool douche who thinks he's better than everyone portrayed in typical effortless manner.

I applaud you James. You are why I've nicknamed this movie - "Oz the Great and Awesome"

Opened: March 08, 2013 Runtime: 2 hr. 10 min. Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Family Rated: PG