Thursday, 7 March 2013

Film Review: "Oz the Great and Powerful" (2013).

One of the taglines of the film is "The land you know. The story you don't." Which is what Oz the Great and Powerful is all about. This fantasy adventure film directed by Sam Raimi. When a tornado transports magician Oscar "Oz" Diggs from Kansas to the Land of Oz, he is identified as the prophesied "Wizard of Oz" by three witches, Glinda, Evanora and Theodora, who attempt to persuade Oscar to restore order in Oz from a power-hungry Wicked Witch. The film is a spiritual prequel to L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Wizard of Oz (1939).

The first signs of life began after the successful release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, Walt Disney planned to produce an animated film based on the first of L. Frank Baum's Oz books. In 1954, when the film rights to Baum's remaining thirteen Oz books were made available, Walt Disney Productions acquired them for use in Walt Disney's television series Disneyland and the live-action film Rainbow Road to Oz (1957), which was abandoned and never completed. Disney's history with the Oz series continued with Return to Oz (1985), which was presented as an unofficial sequel to, or variant of, the 1939 film. The film was both a critically and commercially failure, but since developed a cult status. The Walt Disney Studios first commissioned Oz the Great and Powerful in 2009 under the tenure of then studio chairman Dick Cook, who was succeeded by Rich Ross and later Alan Horn, a unique trait for a major studio release. Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire were hired to write the screenplay and Joe Roth serving as producer. Roth initially sought out Robert Downey Jr. for the titular role of the Wizard in April 2010. By summer of that year, Sam Raimi was hired to direct the film. In January 2011, Raimi attempted to revive discussions with Downey, but became aware that the actor was uninterested. The film was without a lead until February when James Franco entered final negotiations to star in the film, only five months before filming was scheduled to begin. Franco and Raimi had previously worked together on the Spider-Man trilogy (2002-7). Because Warner Bros. (via Turner Entertainment) owns the rights to iconic elements of the 1939 MGM film, including the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland, Disney was unable to use them nor any character likenesses from that particular film.

The film stars James Franco as Oscar Diggs, Mila Kunis as Theodora, Rachel Weisz as Evanora and Michelle Williams as Glinda. Franco gave a great performance, Franco in particular hams it up and is often playing to the balcony. Mila Kunis gets a thumbs up for her performance as she demonstrated excellence in the art of bewitchery and emotional drama. Weisz gave a riveting performance. Lastly, Williams gave an amazing performance.

Sam Raimi's Oz the Great and Powerful sacrifices the Baum's fantastical spirit and much of its heart. But it's an undeniable visual treat.

Simon says Oz the Great and Powerful receives:

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