Oz the Great and Powerful
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director • Sam Raimi
Starring • James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis
Rated • PG
Recommended to • Those looking for a visually appealing, but somewhat shallow prequel to “The Wizard of Oz.”
Oz (James Franco) was nothing more than a charlatan magician touring small towns and leaving a trail of broken hearts until a storm swept him away to a distant land where witches, both good and evil, were vying for control in the wake of their king’s death.
Those expecting “Oz the Great and Powerful” to stand up against 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” should reconsider their expectations. “Oz the Great and Powerful” is an overwhelmingly entertaining popcorn film; not an instant classic. It’s positives out weigh its flaws, but those flaws cannot be ignored. The film features a bevy of modern special effects. Some of these effects work wonderfully and others make it look like the actors have been inserted into an animated film. The cast impresses. James Franco is steady, Rachel Weisz is brilliant, Michelle Williams is wonderfully subtle and for the first half of the film Mila Kunis is enchanting. Unfortunately the second half is an entirely different story as Kunis fails to match the intensity of the rest of the cast rendering her character as a distraction rather than a menacing force.
The plot is fantastic, but the script isn’t nearly as smart or clever as I would have liked it to be. It’s nice that the majority of the scenes are pulled directly from L. Frank Baum’s stories, but the characters lack depth and their choices often feel unmotivated by anything other than the need to move the story forward.
Director Sam Raimi offers audiences a wild ride and slips in all his traditional gimmicks and while the references to his other films and the cameos of his brother and Bruce Campbell are amusing inside jokes they don’t really serve a purpose.
I enjoyed “Oz the Great and Powerful” and I think you will as well, just be ready to look past the occasional inconsistencies that keep the film from being as grand as its title.
-Ryan Michael Painter