By Sergio Berrueta
The wonderful world of Oz that captivated audiences back in 1939 has returned to the silver screen in the prequel ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’.
Walt Disney Pictures and director Sam Raimi decide to take the roots of the MGM classic to create their own vision that is a visual treat that is not without its flaws.
‘Oz’ tells the tale of magician Oscar ‘Oz’ Diggs, played by James Franco, conning his way through the carnival circuit and aspiring to be a great man rather than a good man, despite his selfish needs.
After a show gone awry, Oscar decides to leave town until the familiar tornado comes and whisks him away to the land of Oz.
Oscar meets witches named Theodora and Evanora, portrayed by Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz respectively, who believe Oscar might be the great wizard that can stop the Wicked Witch from destroying the land once and for all.
Oscar teams up with a flying monkey named Finley, a doll named China Girl and Glinda the Good, performed by Michelle Williams, to end the Witch’s wrath and take his rightful place as the grand wizard of the Emerald City.
Director Sam Raimi, whose previous works include the Evil Dead and Spider-Man trilogies, oddly fits in the world created using his trademark style to create scenes both light in heart and frightening at times.
James Franco as Oz is a delight, having all the suave charm of a billionaire playboy with the heart and courage of the everyman type.
The performances by Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz are stellar as complete foils of one another with Glinda’s wholesome personality going up against the sympathetic wickedness of Evanora.
Mila Kunis’s performance seems lackluster compared to the others turning into an angry bitter overacting mess by the film’s end.
The cinematography of the film is astounding with vibrant colors and rich designs making a dreamscape with touches of the original classic utilizing both the use of CGI landscapes and practical sets.
The effects are magnificent in the 3D format taking the audience on a thrill ride, immersing them in the story going on and never feeling tacked on in the vein of post conversion 3D features.
Not everything in the land of Oz is full of wonders as certain problems are quite apparent. The story tries to make an unnecessary romance angle happen as the central turning point of the film that feels forced and only made to provide a reason for a character’s transformation and hatred.
The score by Danny Elfman is the exact same as his scores to the first two Spider-Man features, combining the typical ‘oohs and awws’ filmgoers come to expect from Elfman’s efforts.
‘Oz’ is not great or powerful up against the 1939 film, but a fun addition to the adventures of Oz filled with out of this world visuals, terrific performances, and wise direction by Raimi, even if the flaws may deter those viewing it.
‘Oz’ is in theaters now and rated PG for sequences of action, scary images, and brief mild language.