Oz The Great And Powerful (2013)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
Right, all 6 series of Lost have been finished now so hopefully I can get on with watching the rest of those 500 films. First up though, a film which was earmarked by the girlfriend as soon as it was announced - Oz The Great And Powerful.

Her obsession has very little to do with the original film The Wizard Of Oz, but more to do with the various reworks and back stories that have spun off - including the incredible musical Wicked based on the books by Gregory Maguire and the 1985 feature film Return To Oz.

Where Wicked follows the development of the witches and Return To Oz is an unofficial sequel, Oz The Great And Powerful offers an explanation as to how the wizard arrived in Oz. In the early 20th Century, Oz (James Franco) is a small time illusionist who works like most magicians using deception to impress his audience.

Like Dorothy years later he is whipped up in a hurricane and deposited in the land of Oz where he meets Theodora (Mila Kunis) and Evanora (Rachel Weisz). As Oz arrives at Emerald City he is told that the land of Oz is in turmoil following the rise of an evil witch, Glinda (Michelle Williams), and he is prophesied to save the land.

Undoubtedly the most striking part of Oz The Great And Powerful is the creation of the land of Oz. Everything from the meticulous details in Emerald City down to a wonderfully restored yellow brick road has been accounted for and it leads to a fantasy landscape that rivals any creation of Peter Jackson or James Cameron. In addition to this, director Sam Raimi doesn't forget to pay homage to the Oz heritage with a 4:3 black and white opening sequence which transforms impressively when the land of Oz appears on screen. Disney even gets in on the act by continuing their growing trend of merging their title card in the introduction.

Despite a big hat, Wicked Witch couldn't keep her
dandruff under control
There are countless references to The Wizard of Oz (or L Frank Baum's original book The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, if you prefer), including the wimpy lion and nods towards the heartless tin man and brainless scarecrow. Dorothy's parentage is discussed in passing during a scene at Baum Bros. Circus - a travelling show named after the original author.

Despite being a wonderful creation clearly scripted by fans of The Wizard of Oz, Oz The Great And Powerful still left me wanting more. The story was more than a little rushed in places - Oz's travel through the Dark Forest was over before it had even begun - and the three main actresses were criminally underused. Mila Kunis was the headline female but her character just appeared to be a gullible twit, rather than the feared Wicked Witch of the West. She wasn't on screen enough to appear as misunderstood as intended.

In conclusion then, Oz The Great And Powerful is probably worth going to see at the cinema, even if just to get the rush of entering another beautifully created world. If you're interested in other spin-offs from the land of Oz, then this will almost certainly fly your broomstick.