‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ Movie Review: More than Good Enough [Video]

Sam Raimi’s visually stunning prequel to ‘The Wizard of Oz” is rather effective movie with lots of magic, wicked witches and some drama.

Lively, appealing, lovingly detailed and overlong, Sam Raimi’s new film functions as a prequel to the classic myth.

Actually it is  a very accomplished tribute to Victor Fleming’s original 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, with the look and spirit of those studio sets reproduced digitally with eerie exactitude.

Frank L. Baum wrote 13 sequels to his most popular novel, but so far as it is known, he never hit on the idea of a prequel.

Ingeniously scripted by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire, “Oz the Great and Powerful” mimics the movement and character arc of the original.

It begins in the Midwest in black-and-white and then falls to a Technicolor Neverland in the eye of a twister.

Copyright issues prevent “Oz the Great and Powerful” from mentioning signature moments from the 1939 film, such as Dorothy’s iconic ruby slippers, but the new movie does feature munchkins, a magician (James Franco) and a trio of witches (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams) as it fills us in on how the world order Dorothy discovered came into being.

James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, the grinning and rascally fairground magician from Kansas who is swept away by a twister and lands up in the magical land of Oz.

He’s an unconvincing fraud and a shaky charlatan — too young, perhaps, to fool anyone except himself.

Or, maybe he’s just too contemporary to pass as a 19th century illusionist.

Reportedly, Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp turned down the role, and either might have played him with more aplomb.

As in the 1939 original, a tornado seems the only mode of transport from Kansas to the magical kingdom, as Oscar is carried in by a hot air balloon.

And magical this land certainly is, with unusual flowers opening in glorious profusion and otherworldly pink butterflies filling the air. It is quite a 3-D sight, and it needs to be to keep us involved while the story finds its legs, writes LA Times.

In Oz the Great and Powerful there is Theodora, Evanora, and Glinda.

Theodora (Mila Kunis) is a young, naive thing, susceptible to love, bouts of fury, and her sister’s manipulations. She falls instantly and unconvincingly in love with the wizard, Oz, who also happens to be a terrible rake and lady’s man.

Then there’s Evanora, Theodora’s older sister.

Evanora (Rachel Weisz) is the manipulator, the real wicked witch, and—as far as I’m concerned—easily the best character in the whole film.

Weisz plays the villain convincingly, with enough menace and restraint to pull it off.

Finally, there’s Glinda the Good, replete with her flying bubbles.

Glinda (Michelle Williams) is first encountered, for reasons not entirely clear, in a dark and spooky graveyard at the back end of the dark forest.

Evanora has sent Oz and co. to kill her, claiming she’s the wicked witch responsible for the death of the old king, says the Forbes.

The new “Oz” falls short of the 1939 “Oz” in charm and innocence and certainly in songs (there is only one, a brief, jokey number from the Munchkins).

But as family entertainment, it’s hard to fault such a rapturous spectacle and astute, suspenseful piece of storytelling.

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