So I was groaning about my experience with Oz, the Great and Powerful over the weekend and one of my friends challenged me to write a review on it. Here it is.
With much excitement, I took my daughter and myself to go see it. I love magical stories and what can be more magical than the merry land of Oz? Plus, with all of the magnificent promotional material for this movie, I was certain it would deliver on all of its promises.
I won’t blow any of the storyline for you. I will simply offer my musings about this show…
First and foremost, I’ll start with my appreciations. The trip through the tornado was interesting and had me intrigued on what it would be like to actually be in a tornado like that. Oz was a lovely, imaginative place. It captured the magical essence of “Oz.” Very colorful, entertaining, and interactive. The ways they worked the original theme of Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion into the movie was clever. The development of how the man became the Great and Powerful Wizard was fascinating and I felt most pleased with that aspect of the show. I appreciated how they showed him using his skills to create the effects he wanted to create. I really loved all of the costumes worn by Rachel Weisz. They were stunning and elegantly flowing.
Now, for the rest…
The casting director failed miserably in casting James Franco in the roll of The Wonderful Wizard. Franco’s acting felt exhausting, while at the same time was incredibly flat. The character of the Wizard seemed written for the comedic timing and depth of an actor like Johnny Depp. Franco’s contrived attempt at being a “bad guy at heart” was deplorable. Perhaps it was the intention of the people behind this movie to have their main character be unlikeable and unconvincing.
I haven’t read all of the “original” books written by L. Frank Baum, so I may be off in left field, buuuuut… the storylines about all of the witches seemed to be really off and confused. Given that I am a HUGE fan of Wicked, which was inspired by the Wizard of Oz, but creates its own storylines about the witches, I could very well be biased about how I want my witch stories to run. And, if that is the case, this new rendering doesn’t meet up to my expectations. The women playing the witches were… weak. I get that Michelle Williams and Mila Kuniz are popular with younger crowds and Rachel Weisz usually has a strong audience pull, as well. However… is it possible that the three women were cast just for that reason? They are beautiful to look at but their performances were drab. I’ve seen all three women perform optimally in other shows, but it did not come through in this one.
I did appreciate that they stuck to the black and white feel prior to going to Oz so the vibrancy of Oz would be even more vibrant. However, just as my daughter pointed out, the black and white was not believably “old.” Black and white with today’s technology does not portray early 1900’s as convincingly as the black and white technology of the 1930’s and ’40’s. It looks too modernized and not grainy enough. Also, it seemed as though they had a weak sepia tone effect over it which did not materialize into sepia tone, but rather just dulled everything to the same value.
The entrance into Oz felt more like exploding into Wonderland and I kept waiting for the Mad Hatter to jump out. And, on that note… the special effects? Oh! Shoot me! The green screen scenes were about as classy as the green screen scenes of B-class movies in the 80’s. Tacky. Tacky. Tacky. And I am bothered by the movie industry people who are now creating their movies for the “wow” effects of 3-D so there are things flying out at you and dips and turns that may have not been really necessary, but are so necessary to make the 3-D experience worthwhile. I don’t see movies in 3-D. It makes me vomit. So my experience with this show was two dimensional, but still annoying.
The two main animated characters, Finley and China Girl, are great on their own. When the CGI is on its own and they are maneuvering in the CGI world, they are GREAT! The China Girl, especially, was my favorite. She is a beautiful, beautiful creation and her cracked porcelain rendering is fabulous. Once they took the CGI creatures out of CGI world and put them in with the humans, it lost all of the appeal and my ability to suspend my disbelief crashed to the floor. Whenever China Girl is held, it is so unbelievable that I just got more mad and disgusted as the movie dragged on.
I am a huge fan of the television show Once Upon a Time and, in watching those scenes, it is fairly obvious when the room they are in is purely CGI. Because it is television, I allow for obvious green screen effect and the weak representation and I look passed it all. Oz the Great and Powerful, was talked about for a year, hyped up about being grand scale beautiful, and unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. With as much money as they have spent in yelling about how amazing it was going to be, I expected amazing.
It did not deliver.
There you have it, Amy. A little about what I felt about this movie.