I’ve been waiting a while for this one, and I was ecstatic to be able to finally see Oz today! I ended up watching it in IMAX, since I was very late for the normal showing. The $18 hurt to shell over, but in the end I was pleased to have been able to see it in that format. The colors were vibrant and well-saturated, and the artwork was fantastic as well. Visually, I have nothing to complain about.
The actual movie, I’m afraid to say, doesn’t stand up to the special effects in terms of enjoyment. To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed. Maybe it’s because I had such high expectations walking in, but even so the plot and characters fell flat. The beginning seemed rushed in order to give full time to the climax: I wish they would have made the movie longer to give some more depth. In addition, some of the acting was so over- or under-done (depending on the scene) that I couldn’t really take the characters seriously; they were like caricatures of stereotypes.
James Franco, as Oz, is a swaggering, over-dramatic cliche of a carnival magician, mumbo jumbo and all. Even in the more serious moments, he has this strange, plastic, goofy grin on his face that disrupts the gravity of the scenes. Though he did change at the very end – and I mean the last ten minutes of the whole two hour debacle, most of the time I wanted to tell him, “Just calm down and be a real person.”
Mila Kunis’s performance as Theadora was just as disappointing as Franco’s, and perhaps even a smidge worse. If she was simply meant to be eye candy, then she exceeded expectations. Did you see that rear end in those leather pants? I almost felt like I needed to get myself to the gym after walking out of the theater. If she was meant to actually add to the story, well… This may be in part due to the script and pace of the plot, but I didn’t connect to her character at all, nor her rage and subsequent transformation at Oz’s “betrayal.” In the end, she was just one crazy chick who seriously needed a reality check. You’re going to marry a man you met just two minutes ago? Sweetheart, that’s what the Bachelor is for; go join the other ladies over there.
Based on their performances, I would give the movie a 4/10. BUT: there were some fantastic redeeming factors that brings up my rating to a 7/10.
- Michelle Williams as Glinda. As compared to the Glinda in the version with Judy Garland, this version of the witch was more than just a sparkling fairy princess who gives advice in a wispy tone. Glinda was the hero of the story, at least for me. The ending battle between Evanora and her had me mentally cheering, “You go Glinda!”
- The little references to the 1939 version (with Judy Garland): the singing munchkins, the gingham dress, the black and white that fades into brilliant color.
- The minor characters: the china girl, Finley, and Knuck. Finley and Knuck added some well-timed humour to a few scenes, and the china girl ended up being far more than she originally appeared, especially after her heart-breaking opening scene.
If you’re looking for something that’s groundbreaking or a critical success, keep walking. But this is a great movie, if you just sit back and enjoy it. The little nods to the older version will make older viewers smile, and of course the magic of it all is great for younger viewers. Although, for a PG movie, this is a bit dark, especially for younger children. I’d suggest using a bit of discernment if you’re bringing a young one with you.
I’d also like to comment on the trailers that were shown before the actual movie. Nerd alert: a longer Star Trek bit and a new Iron Man trailer. I’ve already seen the Iron Man one on the internet, but it was great seeing it on the huge screen. Plus, that means that May is getting closer! The Star Trek trailer fleshed out the idea of the film a bit more, but it’s still tantalizing enough to keep me begging for more. We still didn’t get to see too much of Benedict Cumberbatch as the villian, though… The fangirl inside me cried a bit. But from the two seconds he was in the teaser, I have concluded that the man can rock an upturned collar like nobody’s business. Just sayin’.