When you think about the name Oz, if you are anything like me (or you know, half the world), you picture a yellow brick road, ruby slippers and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. However, with Disney’s Oz: The Great and Powerful, Director Sam Raimi’s latest adventure flick, there are no singing munchkins (well..almost none) and there is no home for Oscar Diggs (James Franco), AKA “Oz” the smug, gimmicky traveling circus magician. When Oz gets caught in a tornado while escaping the wrath of a lover’s jealous husband, he is whisked to the magical land of Oz. When he first lands, he meets the beautiful Theodora (Mila Kunis) one of the three witches of Oz. She immediately sees him to be the powerful wizard that was foretold by the deceased king, and wears her heart on her sleeve. He meets the other two witches, Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams) and then the battle for the land of Oz ensues. Will Oz prove to be the powerful wizard that the people of Oz had been awaiting? Or will he just end up being that snaky magician who loves ‘em and leaves ‘em? You’ll have to see that for yourself. As far as the story goes, Oz The Great and Powerful was a great way to clear up questions and get to know the history behind the classic. The visuals are extraordinary and the 3D aspect was not only beautifully presented, but in a time where some films make me question why 3D is used (way too much!), this film seemed to have been born for it. I felt like I was actually IN the Land of Oz, and when I removed the 3D glasses, I was just a little sad to realize I really was just in a theater. Franco as Oz had me worried when I first heard the casting. I mean, this was THE Wizard of Oz…the voice behind the curtain in the beloved Oz, it was a big role to fill. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how well Franco filled these shoes. He was enjoyable to watch, and the transformation from kitschy magician to a good man with a real heart was believable and I went from disliking him, to rooting for him. But let’s talk about the witches. Michelle Williams was a perfect Glinda. She was ethereal, kind and smart, basically everything you hoped Glinda would be and more (traveling by bubbles!! When can I try this?). Rachel Weisz’s Evanora had the right amount of almost wicked, and just this side of manipulative. She was fantastic. Which leads me to Mila Kunis’ Theodora. At the beginning, I liked her. I felt she was true to her character and it made sense. But then, when her character does a major shift, I just….well, it just didn’t work for me. She wasn’t bad, and her scenes were still entertaining to watch, but she just didn’t fit the part.
As a whole, Oz The Great and Powerful is a beautiful fantasy adventure film that the whole family can enjoy (although, I’d recommend it more for kids 8 yrs and up, some parts can be slightly scary). It’s entertaining, fun and opens a new door to the magic and the beauty that is the land of Oz.
Oz The Great and Powerful is Rated PG and opens everywhere today.
Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.