Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Movie Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Amazing visuals, climax, fun
Cons: Michelle Willimas’s acting choices, some effects, predictable
The Bottom Line:
Oz prequel story
Does great job with backstory
Light, fun fantasy

“It’s a Good Thing Green is My Favorite Color.”

I have never been a super fan of Oz, and I’m not completely sure why.  I read some of the books as a kid, and I enjoyed them.  I like the story of The Wizard of Oz.  But I don’t line up for Oz related items.  Which explains why I am just now getting around to watching Oz the Great and Powerful.  I’m glad I finally got the movie watched because I enjoyed it.

The movie opens in Kansas in the 1900’s as Oscar Diggs, nicknamed Oz (James Franco), is about to go on stage for his magic show at a traveling circus.  When he must make a hasty exit, he escapes into a hot air balloon.  Unfortunately for him, a tornado is coming, and he is caught in the storm.

When his balloon lands, he is in a land he never would have dreamed possible filled with magical creatures.  Even more surprising, he learns some people think he’s the fulfillment of a prophecy.  As he travels the land, he finds himself caught up in the battle for the future of Oz.  Whose side should he be on?  And can a simple magician help in war at all?

If you are at all familiar with Oz, it’s hard to say there are too many surprises in this movie.  It is a prequel, set before Dorothy arrived in Oz, so we know how things have to end.  They still set things up well so that a couple of the reveals are well done, and there is still so much happening that it keeps your attention.  And I liked their explanations for a few of the things we know about Oz.

Likewise, the character arcs are pretty predictable.  Oz is not a good man at the beginning of the movie, but we slowly watch him change as he encounters new characters.  Again, since we know how the movie has to end, other character arcs aren’t surprises, but they are still fun to watch.

Borrowing from the conceit of the famous Wizard of Oz movie, the film starts out in full frame black and white before turning to wide screen and full color when Oz lands in his new home.  Once he does, the visuals are stunning with vibrant color that pops off the screen.  The film is heavy on the effects, and sometimes that shows, but for the most part I bought what I saw on the screen.

The acting is mostly good as well.  The only character I had an issue with was Glinda.  As portrayed by Michelle Williams, she just felt stiff and a little odd.  I have a feeling that was a directorial and acting choice based on how the character has been portrayed in the past, but it just didn’t work with the rest of the acting or the film overall.

The climax of the film is absolutely wonderful.  It wasn’t super surprising, but it was tons of fun, and wrapped things up perfectly.  I loved it!

Oz the Great and Powerful has some flaws, but none of them are serious.  On the whole, this is a film that will entertain fans of the Oz tales or anyone looking for some light fantasy.

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