Oz the Great and Powerful
Director: Sam Raimi
Writer: Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire
Based on: L. Frank Baum‘s Oz novels
Cast: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff, Joey King, Bill Cobbs, Tony Cox, Bruce Campbell
Oz (James Franco) is a second rate magician in a small travelling circus and a great womanizer. When he gets into trouble for sleeping with the wrong woman, he flees in a balloon, but ends up caught in a tornado. When the wind calms down, Oz is – surprisingly – still alive and finds himself in the magical country of Oz. He is greeted by Theodora (Mila Kunis), a beautiful witch, who tells him that his arrival has been prophesized and he needs to save the land from the evil witch. Oz takes on the challenge because there seems to be money on the horizon, plus a chance to get into Theodora’s pants. But it turns out that there is more to the story than that.
I have so many issues that I’m surprised I managed to enjoy Oz the Great and Powerful at all. But enjoyment was had, though the issues outweigh it by far.
James Franco has been getting a lot of hate in the past few months, which I don’t think is completely warranted, usually. He needs a strong director and to stay away from stoner movies, but then he’s usually really good. Well. Not in this film. You can barely call what he does here acting.
But that’s not the movie’s worst problem. The worst problem is that Oz is there at all. He brings nothing to the story. In fact, you have these three powerful women in Theodora, Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams) and they all put their fate into his hands, knowing full well that he is a bumbling idiot, an opportunistic asshole and a liar who sees the people around him only in terms of their usefulness to him and you just keep wondering why. Why don’t they just use their own magic – they have an abundance of it and not only tricks like him? Why don’t they just kick him out and have their own fight? WHY DOES NOBODY STRANGLE HIM IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT?
Plus, his character development – especially if you consider where he ends up in the further installments – makes no sense whatsoever. And let’s not even talk about Theodora’s “character development” because bleargh. Women can’t handle break-ups! If a guy betrays them, of course they’ll turn evil. And we have again, the conflating of beauty and goodness, just as in Hansel and Gretel.
There were some things that worked pretty well. The movie looks good and the transition from black and white to color is beautifully done. There are some good jokes, too [though certainly not the whole thing with Knuck (Tony Cox) that drove me freaking insane]. China Town was a nice pun, but it did freak me out a little (china people living in china houses is like humans living in flesh houses, isn’t it?). And the movie felt shorter than the two hours it was (though it did have a couple of lenghts). But in the end there are too many issues to make it really worth it.
Summarising: Maybe if you shut off your brain completely.