Disney has done the unthinkable! It’s a prequel to The Wizard of Oz… which makes sense since they did a sequel to it years ago.
That sequel was a mind-fudge, by the way. And it was awesome.
Amazingly, this prequel isn’t half bad either.
Oz: The Great and Powerful tells the story of Oscar Diggs, the man who would eventually become the legendary Wizard of Oz. We learn who he was before he came to the land of Technicolor, how he came to Oz, and how he became the Wizard. We even learn the origins of the Wicked Witch which is actually quite a bit more interesting and unexpected.
Hey, I’ll be the first one to admit that I wasn’t expecting to like this movie. To me, it seemed a bit much – like an episode of Cake Boss where the boss keeps yelling “MORE RAINBOW FROSTING!” and unicorns flew out of his butt as he farted cotton candy and rainbow and, yes, it can be a bit much at times. Take the sequence when Oscar first arrives in Oz… it’s like a overblown special effects demo reel. You almost want to slap the movie and tell it to dial it down. It didn’t make me feel wonder… just a sense of annoyance at someone showing off.
As expected, Oz: The Great and Powerful falls short in every aspect when compared to the original classic as you would expect it to. The Wizard of Oz is a true cinematic treasure that, almost 80 years later, is still looks more polished than most modern day fantasies. Still, Oz: The Great and Powerful ain’t that bad. It’s a little uneven tonally, but still very enjoyable.
One of the greatest fails of the movie is, unfortunately, James Franco. I love the guy, I really do, but he was wrong for this movie. The Wizard is supposed to be a larger than life figure of bombastic presentation and BS-erry. Franco comes off as a leering pedophile-like character that just oozes uncomfortableness in every scene he’s in. He almost looks like he’s trying to figure out a way to bed every other character in the movie.
Oz: The Great and Powerful is still decently, though. The story is different enough from The Wizard of Oz to be its own separate entity and avoids and direct comparisons (at least from those who have actually watched the movies). It introduces some pretty neat characters like a china doll girl, a winged monkey, and a beautiful witch who wants to be good. They are what holds the movie together.
All in all, it’s uneven and overpowering in places, but as for a prequel to a movie that is, face it, sacred, it’s not that bad. Ten years from now, I think kids will still be watching the original, barely aware this one even exists, but as an extension of the tale, it could have been much worse.