Review: Oz the Great and Powerful
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Cast: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis, Zach Braff
Director: Sam Raimi
The Indian Express rating: **
A "PREQUEL" to the much-loved Wizard of Oz of 1939, Oz the Great and Powerful is a shiny and very, very colourful example of why better technology alone doesn't make a better movie, or even better magic.
In its repetitive scenery, simplistic dialogue, bland witches, grating humour and unconvincing hero, this film is more and more flat as it crawls towards its end, before calling it close with a final burst at salvation.
It is not as if the film appears headed for this fate as Oscar Diggs (Franco) first makes appearance as a street-smart magician in a travelling carnival in Kansas in the year 1905. He is stingy with his money, particularly towards his long-suffering assistant Frank (Braff), generous with his charms and reasonably efficient with his tricks. One dalliance with a woman causes her giant of a lover to chase him. Oscar hops into a hot-air balloon to escape, gets caught in a tornado and after a long distance of being tossed around through different landscapes, finds himself in the Land of Oz.
Raimi (known for the Spider-Man triology) handles both the Kansas portion (shot in black and white in the style of the 1939 classic) and the journey to Oz quite well. Even when he bursts into colour in Oz (again the same as the 1939 version), with blooming flowers and fluttering butterfiles, you are with Oscar in his journey of dreams towards "greatness".
And then the witches come in, followed by a talking monkey (again voiced by Braff) and personality-less Emerald City -- and Oz seems less and less magical. All it takes is Oscar's music box and a fake story about his grandmother for Theodara the witch (Kunis) to fall for him, even though he is so obviously not the great wizard they had been hoping for to rescue them from the "evil witch". She hops and skips on way to break the news to sister Evanora (Weisz), telling her she hopes to be Oscar's queen.
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