Summary: Disney’s fantastical adventure Oz: The Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot – fame and fortune are his for the taking – that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting.
Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity – and even a bit of wizardry – Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 7th March, 2013
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Sam Raimi
Screenwriter: Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire, L. Frank Baum (novel)
Cast: Russell Bobbitt (Mr. Baum), Zach Braff (Frank/Finley), Bill Cobbs (Master Tinker), Tony Cox (Knuck), James Franco (Oscar Diggs), Joey King (Girl In Wheelchair/China Girl), Mila Kunis (Theodora/The Wicked Witch Of The West), Abigail Spencer (May), Rachel Weisz (Evanora), Michelle Williams (Annie/Glinda)
Runtime: 130 mins
Dave Griffiths’s ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’ Review:
You have to hand it to Sam Raimi (‘Drag Me To Hell’, ‘Spider-Man 3’), he is a bit of a glutton for punishment. His work on the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise seemed to divide fans of the webbed crusader and now he almost commits cinematic sacrilege by taking on the challenge of producing a prequel to one of the most loved films of all time ‘The Sound Of Music’.
Luckily for Raimi he is up to the task and despite the fact the film has a massive lull in the middle scenes it does enough to entertain the audience and keeps the fabulous world of Oz well and truly alive.
The film begins with Oscar Diggs (James Franco – ‘Lovelace’, ‘Interior Leather Bar’) as a womanizing poor impersonation of a magician who is so wrapped up in his own lifestyle that he can’t even commit to the love of his life Annie (Michelle Williams – ‘My Week With Marilyn’, ‘Take This Waltz’) even if that means seeing her walk down the aisle with another man.
When a freak accident involving a hot air balloon and a tornado occurs Oscar suddenly finds himself in a strange new land where he meets witch sisters Theodora (Mila Kunis – ‘Tar’, ‘Ted’) and Evanora (Rachel Weisz – ‘The Bourne Legacy’, ‘Dream House’) and despite his promises he can’t help but continue on his womanizing ways.
Declaring him as the Wizard and their savoir, the two witches send Oscar along with his winged-monkey sidekick Finley (Zach Braff – ‘Tar’, TV’S ‘The Exes’) to destroy the supposed wicked witch Glinda (Michelle Williams). Along the way he meets a young broken China Girl (Joey King – ‘Family Weekend’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’) whom he helps, however when he arrives at his destination he begins flirting with Glinda which causes all hell to break out with Theodora and Evanora meaning that nobodies lives are safe.
‘Oz The Great And Powerful’ is one film that you just have to see in 3D. Raimi has made the Oz universe look like something from ‘Avatar’ while the producers have also used a lot of the same ideas that they used in Tim Burton’s ‘Alive In Wonderland’. There are also clear references to ‘Pinnochio’ and of course ‘Wicked’ but Raimi brings them all together and produces a film that seems to mix the right amount of comedy, drama and even some action… just be warned that some of the supernatural scenes may scare younger audience members.
And while the film is a great watch it really lets down its leading man, James Franco. Oscar is this interesting character but for some reason the screenplay just seems to have grinning wildly for most of the time. Luckily Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis put in brilliant performances and are like leading ladies of old.
‘Oz The Great And Wonderful’ is an enjoyable watch and Sam Raimi shows that he is the visionary director that his early career suggested.
Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘Oz The Great And Powerful′: Check Episode #23 (available 8th March) of our The Good The Bad The Ugly Podcast for a more in-depth review of ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’. Dave also has a review of ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’ that is available on the Helium Entertainment Channel.