“Oz, the Great and Powerful”
Sometimes the technology used today to create or recreate movies and their imaginable scenes are so ingenuous, it borders on being simply mesmerizing; amazing beyond belief. Sometimes the level of detail and color richness is even better than the way nature intended. And sometimes wonderful color, in this Disney effort of “Oz, the Great and Powerful”, is not enough, or in this case all there was to two hours of a flat and uninspiring story that on top of that included flat performances as well.
Based on the original book, and presumably a prequel to its more highly acclaimed family classic favorite “The Wizard of Oz”, this Oz seemed to do what a lot of film makers do today, which is mix an array of fabulous actors with a heavy special effects foot print, then hope you the audience won’t ever notice what attributes of talent are missing from the film, especially if it is compared to what made the original film far more memorable and enduring.
The Oz film of today seems satisfied to just saturate our senses with color, pretty faces and spectacular events, but leaves out the necessary infusion of fantasy, charm, wonderment and magic to appeal to the entire family – Mom and Dad, Son and Daughter.
As a small boy I remember being filled with both joy and some dread as I journeyed with Dorothy, the Lion, The Tin Man and The Scare Crow down that yellow brick road; thrilling me with both magical tales and musical song with Dorothy as our guide as they danced they’re way to Emerald City in the hope of her finding her way back to Kansas.
Oh, did I say music? Remember, “lions tigers and bears oh, my”, ding dong the witch is dead”, “if I had a heart” and “courage”. In this Oz there was no attempt at all to having a least a few original tracks of music for us to share in and for the principle characters to appear to be a bit more personable by. But I digress.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention James Franco as the Wizard. I like him a lot as an actor. He was brilliant in the TNT television move “James Dean”. But here he seemed ill-suited to provide the right mix of gentle con man and generous romantic hero. Every time he smiled or uttered his lines I felt his performance was more similar to his weed infatuated stoner character in the film ‘Pineapple Express”.
Ultimately, the film misses its mark. Instead of making an enduring film that works for both kids and adults and the family as a whole, it felt more like a by the technical book movie that catered its attention to adults who were kids once.
2 -1/2 Stars