Oz: The Great and Powerful: (Spoilers ahead) I really didn’t fancy this at all. I mean, with a very few honourable exceptions (X-Men First Class, Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom) prequels are uniformly terrible ideas. I mean, we know the outcome of all the main characters don’t we? And from the trailers it looked like the director had employed exactly the same post processing team and colour palette that helped make Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland into the dull but colourful turd of a film that it was.
And this is The Wizard Of Oz. One of the most iconic films ever made and already lumbered with two pretty dreadful related films, the lamentable Return To Oz and The even more terrible The Wiz.
However, this turned out to be quite wonderful. Sam Raimi wears his affection for the original on his sleeve and does nothing to besmirch it with several knowing nods towards, even giving us a never before seen glimpse of Dorothy Gale’s mother to be. James Franco is excellent as the title character who acknowledges from the start that he is neither great or a good man, though shows perhaps that he at least a little by sending her off to marry someone else, aware that he could never be the husband she would deserve.
Mila Kunis is as adorable as ever as Theodora, who we see manipulated by her sister, descend from sweetness and goodness into the pre ruby slippers wicked witch we all know and love from the later film. Michelle Williams shines as Glinda the Good Witch and the whole ensemble is only let down by a somewhat sleepwalking performance from Rachel Weisz. Indeed, Kunis is even more watchable when she turns into a big green rage monster intent on revenge On Oz for unwittingly breaking her heart.
Friends of Dorothy may be alarmed at the lack of songs, though the Munchkins do launch into a number mid way through but are thankfully stopped by Oz. 🙂 and while there’s no scarecrow, tin man or cowardly lion, we get instead a flying monkey and the totally adorable China Girl as Oz’s sidekicks.
And of course, as with any Sam Raimi film, you get to play Spot Bruce Campbell and the eagle eyed Raimi fan might even spot Raimi’s brother Ted in the opening black and white sequence.
I loved it and, while many of the references and nods were lost on my Munchkin who unlike her dad, hasn’t yet reached triple figures for watching the original, so did the little one. I loved it so much that I an hoping for a sequel to the prequel. School holidays are coming and this is just the film to see for an Easter treat.
Running time: 130 minutes
Released: March 8th 2013
Director: Sam Raimi
Producer: Joe Roth
Screenplay: Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire (based on the novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum)
Music: Danny Elfman
Oz: James Franco
Theodora: Mila Kunis
Evanora: Rachel Weisz
Annie/Glinda: Michelle Williams
Frank/Finley: Zach Braff
Winkie Gate Keeper: Bruce Campbell
Skeptic in Audience: Ted Raimi