Well, another movie off my most anticipated list, and we're still in March. This time, it is a piece by the wonderful Sam Raimi, who has brought such wonderful movies as "The Evil Dead", "Spider-Man", and to a lesser extent, "Drag me to Hell". Any time I see that name, it is automatically added to the list of movies that I HAVE to see. So when I saw that Sam Raimi was attached to a prequel of sorts to "The Wizard of Oz", naturally I knew that I had to see it. So in the end, was Oz really Great and Powerful, check it out after the jump to find out.
I didn't want to see a good movie, I wanted to see a GREAT movie. With Sam Raimi's involvement, and no mention of Topher Grace playing one of the villains, I figured I had things made. And with Sam's regular group of cameos, if nothing else, I was guaranteed a good game of "Find Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi". I should probably mention, that I am quite fond of some of the non-literary Oz adaptations, such as The Wizard of Oz, and Wicked.
The movie itself, basically tells the story of how a poor circus magician from Kansas, became the great and powerful Wizard of Oz. It does so rather well, while taking a horribly unlikable character and turning him into a merely unlikable character. Throughout the movie, you will see numerous examples of the character's greed, cowardice, egomania, and outright blatant disregard for all things around him. He womanizes, he lies... you get the idea that he is just not a good person, right? And this is the character the entire movie is based around! Despite all that, there are some moments that he breaks that character, and moments of something that might almost be described as "humanity" shines through... The entire China Town scene for example.
One thing that the movie does, that made me smile a bit, was the transition from Kansas to Oz. In a move reminiscent of the original movie, this one starts out in black and white, but with a twist. Rather than being at full screen, it only used the full screen ratio. As the color starts getting added, the screen slowly widens until it finally hits widescreen. This particular bit is something that makes me want to watch the movie on a non-widescreen TV just to see how they handle that transition...
I've harped on the over-abundance of CG in movies in the past, and this shall be only slightly different. For a change, I can fully appreciate the use of a lot of CG. The land of OZ requires elements of the fantastical that are just simply easier to create with extensive use of CG. Everything from turning the world into an insane world full of unnatural colors, to making monkeys fly, CG was a necessity. My gripes come with a character that I honestly thought was the movie's heart, the China Girl. Every time one of the characters would interact with her, her unreality made things glaringly obvious. You could just tell that the actor's weren't interacting with a physical being, although Wikipedia claims that there was actually a puppet to work with, the scenes do not look it.
The Wicked Witch prosthetics were probably the biggest gripe I had with the entire movie, Not because they were bad, per se. More in the fact that they looked... unnatural. Which I will admit is probably the point, but it in general felt wrong. The Mila Kunis crying make up was much more effective.
Recomendation: Go on and see it. Bring the kids, bring the family, bring a date (if she doesn't mind you ogling Mila Kunis). This is a family movie, that should play great to all ages.
Is it Theater-worthy: Yes. I most definitely believe that it is. The transition from Kansas to Oz alone is worth it, because I honestly don't think that will ever play out as well on the small screen. Also, there are a lot of 3D effects that will play out much better on the large scale, rather than the small.
Final Thoughts: The movie has a lot of call backs to the original Oz movie that we all know, and many of us love. And it is at times a colorful, light-hearted romp that the kiddies can enjoy. Compared to certain other adaptations of classic stories that I might have reviewed recently, I think this movie is a movie that the whole family can watch and on the most part enjoy.
Frank's Final Score: 7.5 out of 10