For His Next Trick,‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ will perform chronological illusions… of the confusing sort
Off to see the Wizard? Might want to think twice. Technically, Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful takes place ahead of Wizard of Oz, but before the excitement sets in, any familiarity one could expect to possibly see is non-existent. There are no tin-men. There are no lions. No worries though, there’s an overly modernized “hip” wizard and an annoying monkey sidekick. Interested yet?
The story revolves around Oz (James Franco) and his journey to becoming the famed wizard. Though the story takes place hundreds of years ago, Oz’ demeanor is very current-day, to an absurd degree. Modern sarcasm and wit detract from the historical setting set before the viewer, resulting in an awkward mix of 1600s and mid-2000s. Along the journey, Oz makes a few new acquaintances, but none more grating than Finley (Zach Braff). Cursed with dialogue that only Jar -Jar Binks could appreciate, the cringe-worthy little monkey has a bad habit of talking way too much, with a handful of unfunny puns to boot. The only characters who were bearable enough to be called “good” and chronologically accurate were the witches; Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams). Their portrayals of good and evil were top notch and at some points, saved the film from downward spirals.
Characters aside, the real issue is the plot structure. Though it comes together shortly after the middle, the first 45 minutes of the film are either too loose or too forced, with very little explanation or reasoning for what’s going on. The viewer is taken on a ride where they are not to question where they are going or how they are going to get there. Too many events seem to “just happen” in a very unclear manner, with characters that materialize, just to disappear for very long periods of time, only to reappear again. It all adds up to a very randomized sequence of seemingly accidental adventures.
If one were to disconnect Oz the Great and Powerful from Wizard of Oz completely, the tale of a sarcastic magician going on a fantastic voyage wouldn’t be so bad. However, it was made with the intent of being tied in with the original story, a story that it falls well short of representing properly.
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 211 minutes
Cast: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff, Bill Cobbs, Tony Cox, Joey King
Director: Sam Raimi
Writers: Michael Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire
Playing at: AMC Mercado, AMC Cupertino