MOVIE REVIEW: Oz The Great And Powerful

Oz_-_The_Great_and_Powerful_PosterSam Raimi revamps the origins of one of the world’s most famous wizards in this charming and straightforward tale.



The first thing you’ll notice about Oz the Great and Powerful is it’s a very, very pretty film. It follows the origins of one Oscar Diggs (James Franco) and his journey to becoming the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In terms of plot, that’s pretty much it. But like we said, it looks very good.

This is most definitely a family film in terms of content and tone. Our heroes are never really in much peril and the baddies never rise above mildly menacing. Plus, it has an adorable talking flying monkey wearing a bellhop’s uniform (voiced equally as adorably by Scrubs’ Zach Braff) that your kids will demand the stuffed toy of as soon as you leave the cinema.

Visually, Oz is gorgeous. Everything pre-Diggs landing in Oz is set in black and white (just like the 1939 MGM version of The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland) so the contrast when we finally enter the fabled land of Oz is breathtaking.

The visual effects are a perfect match; not too realistic and with a slight cartoony appearance, making everything seem brighter than reality. The whole environment of Oz is brimming with life, with even the graveyards seemingly full of colour and vitality.

The prelude to Oz is actually quite sinister; totally devoid of colour with the threat of the storm in the background there’s a sense of real tension to this segment. We were half-expecting a Deadite to jump out at any moment!

Sadly, Oz has one very damp squib in the form of Mila Kunis.  She is a great actress with brilliant comic timing, but none of this was evident here. Her performance as Theodora was wooden and she looked so out of place and very confused as to why she was there (makes two of us). Luckily, the rest of the cast is on top form. Rachel Weisz is gloriously camp as the naughty Evanora. James Franco is clearly enjoying himself as Diggs, the circus magician and sleazy con man. Michelle Williams doesn’t get much to do as good witch Glinda, apart from look pretty and tell everyone ‘SHE BELIEVES IN THEM!’ but she pulls it off without appearing too tedious.

There are two brilliant CG characters in Finley the flying monkey and China Girl (tiny girl…made of porcelain, she’s imaginatively named). Braff is the comedic relief playing the monkey while Joey King as the tiny toy china girl is plucky and utterly hilarious. They steal the film.

Obviously, being a Sam Raimi film, we get a brilliant Bruce Campbell cameo; seriously, the man is so nuanced now in his brief appearances that we need to invent an Oscar for ‘Best Cameo in Film’. We don’t want to give anymore away so see if you can spot him in the latter half of the film.

This is a Disney film and since it’s aimed at the kiddies too the preachy message about ‘doing the right thing’ and ‘believing in yourself’ is always front and centre. The horrible cynic in us found this tiresome at times. But Franco is such a slime bag for a large portion of the movie that he manages to dampen this down quite a bit, so it’s not too overpowering and Disney-ish.

This film isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s a really enjoyable way to flit away a couple of hours watching a lovely comforting film that feels like it could, one day, become your favourite pair of worn out old slippers.


Rating: 4/5
Reporter: Sara Westrop

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