About the film
Oz the Great and Powerful is a fantasy/ adventure film that was released at the cinema on 8th March. The film is based on the books by L. Frank Baum and is set 20 years before the film, The Wizard of Oz. Oz the Great and Powerful is rated PG and has a run time of 130 minutes.
Oscar Diggs is a magician in a travelling circus but really, he is just a trickster. In Kansas, he is swept away in a hot air balloon only to collide with a tornado. Begging for his life and promising to be a better man, Oscar finds himself land in a strange world – the land of Oz. The witch Theodora is there to meet him and explains about the King’s prophecy, that a wizard will come to take the throne and save them all. Thinking he is going to have it easy, Oscar admits to being the wizard and cannot wait to get his hands on the gold provided as King. However, it soon becomes clear that he is not the wizard everyone is expecting and there is more than one witch in Oz. The lines are blurred between good and evil and Oscar must decide which witch is really good and true. He must also convince the people of Oz that he really is there to save them and must transform himself into the great and powerful wizard of Oz.
What I thought
I have to be honest; I don’t really like The Wizard of Oz. I don’t know why, but I prefer the sequel, Return to Oz so much more. However, I was absolutely dying to see this film.
Oz the Great and Powerful begins in Kansas where Oscar Diggs (played by James Franco) is working as a small time magician in a travelling circus. The beginning of the film is shown in a different way than with usual films. The screen size is smaller and it is all in black and white. Although I did think for a few minutes the cinema had messed the screen up, I quickly realised what was going on. This is one of the many little nods to the original film and I loved that a similar beginning was kept because it shows just what a different place Oz really is.
James Franco plays a womanising trickster who is a pretty bad magician but I liked him. He was sly and cunning, mean to his one and only friend who is played by Zach Braff and he just doesn’t care about people. I was actually quite glad to see Oscar swept off away on a hot air balloon and into the tornado. The opening of the film isn’t too long which means it doesn’t take long for us to get widescreen and colour back too. When Oscar lands in Oz, we are treated to a vibrant and colourful place bursting with magic of its own. I really enjoyed seeing a new kind of Oz; one that wasn’t run down and broken all over. I wonder what Dorothy would have made of it.
Oz the Great and Powerful has a great range of characters which I loved. We have Theodora the witch who greets Oscar on his arrival in Oz – she is played by Mila Kunis. When Oscar shows her a little more attention than he probably should, she fancies herself in love and wants to be with him forever. I really liked Theodora and Kunis playing her. Unlike the witches in the original film, this one is extremely stylish in leather trousers and heeled books along with a wonderful large, red hat. Then there is Rachel Weisz who plays Evanora, the wicked witch. Compared to The Bourne Legacy which I also watched recently, Weisz is great as Evanora, giving the character such a fantastic personality and performance. She and Theodora are sisters and I liked seeing the differences between the two.
A character more well-known from the original film is Glenda, the good witch although here she is from the South instead of the North for some reason. Anyway, playing Glenda is Michelle Williams. With a wonderful crown on her head, long flowing white dresses and such a lovely personality, Williams was the perfect choice for this role. I certainly couldn’t have imagined her playing one of the other witches. Just like the original, she is sickeningly sweet and nice to everyone but that is just who the character is. Again, here, the filmmakers have given a nod to the original film with Glenda’s big bubbles and her being friends with the Munchkins.
As the plot unravels, you soon realise that not everyone is who they seem and the real good and bad witches are revealed. The film turns into a race to create an army of sorts in order to defeat the evil witch. This is also where Oscar comes into play and needs to finally be the wizard everyone thinks he is. I really enjoyed the plot regarding the wizard and being able to see how he came to be the illusionist he is in the original film. I enjoyed seeing certain characters develop while keeping the plot moving at a steady pace. While not all of this film is as exciting as maybe it could have been, there are moments for everyone to enjoy. I have to say, two particular characters (Finley the monkey and The Little China Girl) made me giggle and smile throughout and were two of the reasons I ended up loving this film.
While this is a PG, there are some moments which younger children would maybe find quite frightening such as the flying monkeys. However, I do think that this is a wonderful family film and one I enjoyed thoroughly.