Thursday, March 07, 2013

Review: Oz The Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful is essentially a prequel to the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz and with such iconic movie comes great expectations. Certain elements from the 1939 film is legally tied to another studio so there are noticeable variations in the story but overall Oz the Great and Powerful is still a solid and colorful return to this magical world.

Oscar (James Franco) is a womanizing magician who finds himself in the magical Land of Oz after his hot air balloon was sucked by a cyclone. In Oz, Oscar meets Theodora (Mila Kunis) a witch who thought that Oscar is the wizard prophesied to defeat the Wicked Witch who killed the King of Oz and therefore take his throne. Oscar plays along and he then soon meets Theodora's sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) who tells him that he can only have the king's power and wealth if he can find the Wicked Witch (Michelle Williams) and breaks the source of her power, the wand. Oscar travels to the Dark Forest to look for the Wicked Witch but he then discovers secrets that will take his journey to a different path than he expected

The movie begins with a nod to The Wizard of Oz as it starts in black and white and an old-fashioned aspect ratio which then transforms to wide screen full color when Oscar enters the land of Oz. The movie is definitely a wonder with a lot of eye popping visuals and beautiful scenery to feast your eyes on. However, the movie has pacing issues which affect the first part of the story where the story does not fully take off and was dull at times. But once everything is set in motion, the energy and action picks up and we are treated to a very fun adventure. The action is very kid-friendly as it was established earlier on that the citizens of Oz could not kill their enemies. So how could they defeat the villains without too much violence? The way they resolved the dilemma is quite smart and very entertaining. In a way, it was also a nod to early forms of cinema on how simple mechanisms could bring magic to the people.

The performances of the cast is generally favorable. Franco starts off awkward as he does not have the Robert Downey Jr. kind of charm to pull off the smarmy but lovable man Oscar but he makes up for it in the final act of the movie where he confronts the witches in such a clever way. Meanwhile, it was refreshing to see both Williams and Weisz take on roles so different from the very serious characters they usually play and fortunately they both pulled it off. However, Kunis was clearly the weak link as she struggled with her character's shift. Zach Braff and Joey King did terrific jobs providing voices to the funny flying monkey Finely and the magnificently-animated China Girl.

Oz the Great and Powerful admittedly has a lot of flaws especially in the first half and would definitely suffer in comparison to the 1939 classic but for what is worth, it did very good job capturing the magic of the world of Oz. If this movie is financially successful, I would be looking forward with what they can do more in the potential sequels.

Rating: 8 / 10

Originally posted at  Official Pinoyexchange Movie Reviews

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