The trailers to Oz the Great and Powerful were disappointing. As a fan of The Wizard of Oz, I want to like a prequel to the movie but the trailers just didn’t do it for me. That’s why I’m actually happy to say that Oz the Great and Powerful is much better than the trailers made it look but the movie still has its issues which stops Oz from being all that great.
Like I said, Oz the Great and Powerful is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. The movie starts off in Kansas in the early 1900’s where we are introduced to Oscar. He is a magician in a traveling circus who cares more about the money and the women involved than he really is about being a great person (although he does want to be more of a good person). When Oscar flirts with a co-worker’s wife he escapes in a Hot Air Balloon. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize the giant tornado behind him and he is whisked away to the land of Oz where he is believed to be this wizard prophecy who kills the Wicked Witch who has killed the king of Oz. Oscar finds out that if he kills the Wicked Witch then he will become the king of Oz and inherit all the money and power in the land of Oz. He agrees to kill the witch but along the way he learns a thing or two about being a good person.
As for the story itself, it’s great and just what I wanted from a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. There are a bunch of little nods to the original film (including the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion) which made the movie all the more awesome for Oz fans. The main problem I have with Oz though is the ending. No spoilers here but nothing really gets resolved. I understand that there needs to be unresolved issues as The Wizard of Oz comes next and the land of Oz is in trouble at the beginning of that movie, but closing off a couple of the character’s stories (especially the ones that aren’t in The Wizard of Oz) would’ve been preferable and would’ve given this movie more of a conclusion. I do feel that they did the best they could so I can’t knock them too much for that. I still liked the story though and found the movie pretty entertaining because of it.
Characters and Performances
This movie works almost entirely because of the Oscar character. It’s very rare that a selfish conman is the one who we are rooting for in these types of family movies. There is really nothing to like about Oscar but he grows on you when he starts to become a better person and you end up really caring for the guy. That was really surprising as it’s very rare that I end up liking a character of this type even when he’s still being his old selfish self. Props to this movie and James Franco for successfully pulling that off.
There are three witches in this movie with only Michelle William’s Glinda being the real standout. Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz did good but those characters came off kind of weak during scenes when they really shouldn’t be (because of both the writing and the performances). The reason why Glinda stands out is because I felt not only because Michelle Williams seemed to care and take the role a little more seriously than the other two, but the character itself was exactly what she needed to be. She’s kind, sweet, and a really likable character, something that Glinda needed to be.
The two sidekicks in this movie were both great but never reached their full potentials. The monkey actually made me laugh quite a few times but more of those laughs would’ve drastically improved the movie and provided a good comic relief. The little china doll was adorable but if her character had more of a payoff at the end of the movie then that would’ve been great. Every other character never reached their potentials either with some of them actually coming off as annoying instead of likable.
One of the best parts of Oz is the visual effects. The trailers didn’t make the visual effects standout but they really do in this movie. The environments are breathtaking at times and they rival some of the best I’ve seen in the past few years. You really get a feel for the land of Oz and the movie felt more atmospheric because of it. The CGI characters like the monkey (which was actually motion capture), the china doll, and the flying monkeys all looked great and made it feel that the actors were really working with them in their scenes.
Oz the Great and Powerful proved to be a very good movie. I had issues with some of the characters and the ending but for the most part I really enjoyed Oz. Oscar was a great character, the visual effects were awesome, and the nods to the original film were greatly appreciated. Some of the characters were weak and never made it to their full potential and I wish the movie was a little more climactic but I still really enjoyed Oz and if you’re looking for a fun family movie then go see Jack the Giant Slayer. But if you’ve already seen that then Oz is a good pick
For reviews and more from Petey Oneto, you can check out his blog or check back with Resident Entertainment for more of his posts in the future.