March 10, 2013

"I don't want to be a good man. I want to be a great one."
Remaking classic and successful movies is an 'it' thing for Hollywood nowadays. But, they have to know that there're some off limits and I would say that Victor Fleming's 1939 "The Wizard of Oz" is one. But, Sam Raimi along with Disney make it anyway, with some mixture of the original L. Frank Baum "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" but still taking its twists, creating a so-called prequel, taking us back on the yellow brick path. It's before Dorothy, before Oz, before everything. The question is, will it at least make it to the base expectation?

The answer is simply no. From what I know, I enjoy Dorothy's land-crash into the land of Oz better than Alice's rabbit-hole fall. I'm a big fan; I've read the e-book, I've watched the broadway (Wicked), and I've caught the glimpse of Fleming's infamous work. I had quite an expectation on this movie, hoping it'll somehow help me back to the land of Oz over again, but the expectation didn't pay off well. Though there're still good aspects in this movie, but they won't easily cover. But, I do love seeing Munchkins again.

Oscar Diggs or what-they-called Oz (James Franco) is a womanizer, self-centered and pathetic con circus magician. He has a dream; to be a great man, not a good man. But, luck doesn't do good on him; his love Annie (Michelle Williams) decided to marry someone else, while the husband of a woman he tricks come chasing him. He then flies with a hot air balloon, hoping to escape, but getting sucked in a wind whirl instead. He then crash-landed into a beautiful place called Oz. There, he meets Theodora (Mila Kunis), a witch who's mistaken him as The Wizard in the great prophecy, the one wizard named after the land itself that'll safe the entire land from the Wicked Witch. Getting promised a chamber full of golds and other treasures and a throne in the Emerald Palace, Oz then does what his best, being a con artist, faking himself as "the wizard", taking his journey to kill the wicked witch and claim his throne. Will he make it?

The movie begins with the black and white 4:3 picture ratio, telling the journey of Oscar Diggs before Oz. It's intriguing, very theatrical, probably the best part in the movie itself. Then, it simply turns into color and going wider into 16:9 ratio after Oz arrives in the land of Oz. It's a brilliant transition. Then, we will be presented to the beautiful visual CGI (though sometimes it's oversaturated it burns your eyes) along with the eye-popping, depth and layered 3D (THE BEST PART OF THE MOVIE, DO NOT WATCH IT IN 2D!) The plot is carefully sewn, though still is predictable. The balance of humor and emotional part is good, creating one compelling journey. The live action CGI of the creatures, such as China Girl and Finley works. Visually acceptable, I can tell. The climax pulls of well; it's fun and enjoyable, though isn't thrilling as much.

The biggest problem in this movie is the flat acting from the supporting characters. While James Franco plays Oz beautifully, with those grin and "Sim Sala Bim", making Oz as charming and playful, but also vulnerable as possible. Michelle Williams makes me yawn while portraying Glinda, the dull and over supportive witch of the South. She could have been more powerful you know, at least show some fangs, not some lazy spiritless movements. Mila Kunis does well on charming Theodora The Good, but as the Wicked Witch of The West : over the top. But, I appreciate her efforts on portraying the disgusting and whimsical green witch. Then there's Rachel Weisz; only pretty face shown, others are just dullness disguised in majestical dress in black, not much of character of the Wicked Witch Evanora. The true stars in this movie is probably Finley The Flying Monkey (Zach Braff) and China Girl (Joey King); they bring laughter, sympathy, and life to this slow-paced and dull movie.

Bottom line, Oz The Great and Powerful is OK, but I can't like it. It's just acceptable, mostly because of the visual effects and the 3D. Other than that, it's nothing. Even the moral value is vague. But, I still recommend you to watch it because it's still enjoyable to watch. 


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