Oz the Great and Powerful – Review (Spoiler Free)

Oz the Great and the PowerfulWithout any of the charm of The Wizard of Oz, and without bringing enough that’s new to the table either, Oz the Great and Powerful often feels rather lacklustre, particularly in comparison to the classic original, but also on its own terms. James Franco plays Oz the stage magician who cons, lies, and tricks his way through life, until one day he is picked up in a twister and transported to the land of Oz. The visual splendor which greets him is impressive; it’s fantastical and is basically a digital update of the 1939 film’s experimental style. Many locations from the original film are revisited, and whilst this could have worked really well, it instead feels as if the film wasn’t confident enough in itself to branch away a little bit and cover some new ground. Still, they all look very pretty, and it’s nice to see such familiar sights as the yellow brick road again, but they do lack anything that resembles the feeling of excitement, awe, or adventure which their 30’s counterparts evoked.

Despite my criticisms above the film is fun in parts; several instances of humour are effective, there are two new companions who are engaging even if not as memorable as the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow, and on some levels it works as  a piece of family entertainment. Michelle Williams does a good job in her role as one of the land of Oz’s witches, giving for me the best performance in the film. Everybody else gives decent enough, if not particularly noteworthy performances. James Franco can play the arrogant and greedy wizard well, although he struggles slightly to get us to like him at times, and doesn’t convince in certain more demanding scenes. Mila Kunis’ character’s storyline is hardly subtle, and I blame the writing more than her for the end result. Although she occasionally felt a little out of her depth towards the end of the film, and there I can more easily point the blame towards her, in the first half she has to sell some of the most cliché and badly written dialogue that I have heard in a while, and that must have been really tough to get through.

It’s a shame that this film is full of so many flaws. ranging from shallow characterisation to an unfulfilling story. I really wanted to like the film, and although there were several good ideas that held real promise, too many of them weren’t developed enough and got lost amongst everything else that went on. Whereas the original film dazzled with and celebrated its advanced visuals, it also had depth. Oz the Great and Powerful is far more about looking pretty, and any attempt to underpin it with an emotional weight falls slightly flat. It’s not terrible, a certain amount of fun can be had with it at times, but overall it’s all just a little bit empty.

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36 comments

  1. Great post, I may see this, mainly because Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz are in it.

    1. Thanks buddy! You may like it, I’m expecting a few people to disagree with my review, but as far as I’m concerned I would make this a rental if you felt that you wanted to see it, rather than heading on over to the cinema.

  2. I was originally planning to catch this in theaters but may wait until it hits TV. I’ve heard mostly disappointed thoughts on this one. Nice review.

    1. Sounds like a plan to me! The visuals won’t be as pretty on a TV, but I don’t rate them high enough to recommend buying a cinema ticket. Thanks!

  3. I was really excited about this… and then got so bored that I fell asleep. What a disappointment.

    1. Yeah I too was really hopeful for this one, and for a while I thought it may be able to save itself, but then it just flopped. Such a shame.
      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Wordschat · · Reply

    I tend to agree with you on this. The visuals overpower a weak script but I did like Milan Kunis the most even if she did look rather kinky in tight black leather with red hat. Check my review too for more.

    1. Glad to hear you agree, and yeah Kunis’ outfit was an interesting choice for a family film!
      Sure, I’ll head over there now. I’ve been largely avoiding reviews of Oz until after I saw the film.

  5. Not terrific, or powerful, or great, but alright to say the least. Good review Rumsey.

    1. Yeah this could have been worse, but then again it should have been a whole lot better. Thanks Dan!

  6. Good review as always. I liked this movie and I have to say that it caught me off guard. It was better than I expected.

    1. Thanks Keith. I wish I liked it more, I guess I went in with too high hopes 😦

  7. I had fun watching the movie, but yeah the script wasn’t the best. Glad that even if you didn’t love Mila’s work you don’t hate on her – people are blaming her for everything here, from lines to make up, well it’s hardly her fault.

    What made the movie a bit better for me were all the clever references to the classic.

    1. Yeah I’ve seen some of that hate going around, it’s pretty unjustified although I thought her acting was a touch off at points too.
      There were several great references which did, I agree, make the film somewhat more enjoyable.

  8. I can agree with you about the movie’s flaws, but the entertaining aspect of the movie won the day for me. I liked it quite a bit. Its hard to defend, I mean non of the points you make are invalid, but I still found it more enjoyable than you, somehow 😦

    1. I can see why people enjoyed it. For a while I was with the movie, and thought I was going to have a great time back in Oz, but then I lost that feeling somewhere along the way.
      Wish I could have liked it as much as you did Fogs!

  9. Nice review man. It seems a lot of people are bringing up Franco’s inadequate performance. It’s the only thing that really makes me want to wait until it comes out on Blu-ray.

    1. Thanks! I mean Franco isn’t terrible or anything, but he does fall just a little short from time to time.
      Blu-ray would definitely be the way to go on this one, those visuals need to be shown off as best as possible!

  10. Yeah, I never had hope for this one. Oh well.

    1. It’s not terrible, possibly worth catching on TV, but I wouldn’t recommend shelling out hard earned cash on a cinema ticket for this one!

  11. Great review. I agree on the acting, good but nothing to write home about. Williams and Weisz were the highlights for me. I don’t like the original Wizard of Oz. I actually enjoyed this one more. Had a lot of fun!

    1. Cheers man! You don’t like the original? That’s a shame, is it the tone and the songs of that one which you don’t like?

      1. Yeah, the tone, some of the songs, the fucking lion! haha I hate the lion! Also, I think time’s not been particularly kind to the movie and it’s unbearably corny for me.

        1. Ahh no! Don’t hate on the lion 😀
          Too be fair I haven’t seen the film in years, but I highly doubt my opinion will have changed! Isn’t the corniness endearing??

          1. LOL, not for me in this case

        2. Fair enough! We can’t all love the same things 🙂

  12. meeradarjiyr1 · · Reply

    Great review! This is on my watch-list – though I’m reconsidering lol…seems quite long and unnecessarily stretched out.

    1. Thank you! Yeah it is a bit. If you did want to watch it I would perhaps suggest a rental rather than a trip to the cinema 😀

  13. Natalie P · · Reply

    Interesting review 🙂 . I quite liked the film and it looked amazing, but I didn’t like the origin story for The Wicked Witch, I thought it made her somewhat one dimensional. What did you think about that?

    1. Thanks Natalie! I liked the concept for her origin story, although I thought it was made one dimensional by the script. From what little I know of Wicked I sense that I prefer her background in that one to this. Which do you prefer?

      1. Natalie P · · Reply

        Definitely Wicked 🙂

        1. I suspected as much. Right, I’ll have to make a real effort to see Wicked at some point soon!

  14. love that poster … witches are under-rated …
    g

    1. Witches generally – yes, perhaps they’re somewhat under-rated. This one though isn’t worth your time, even if she makes for a cool poster 😀
      Thanks for stopping by!

  15. I liked this ok, but I am surprised that’s it’s become the biggest hit of 2013 in the U.S. Nothing else even comes close. I know that will change but still. The year is already a third over!

    1. Wow, I didn’t realise that it was doing so well! It’s something of a shame that it’s such a hit considering how mediocre I found it to be. As you say, a third is already over – we need a new bigger (and better) hit asap!

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