Oz, The Great & Powerful,
directed by Sam Raimi
(Walt Disney, 2013)

While there's a lot to admire about Oz, The Great & Powerful, there are issues that drag it down, keeping it from being the epic film it could have been. It's certainly beautiful and very inviting in an eye-candy sort of a way, but ultimately it's all surface glitter. The acting is disjointed and flat, and the flimsy story makes the movie feel like a long, single episode of any given paranormal TV show. If you want an enjoyable romp in a surreal landscape, then you'll be quite happy. It's more like Tim Burton's Alice or Charlie & the Chocolate Factory; at heart, a great tribute, but more stylish and eye-popping than breakthrough and intriguing.

Small-time magician Oscar Diggs is swept away from a small town in Kansas via a handy tornado. Landing in a fantastical wonderland filled with flying monkeys, yellow brick roads and other wonders right from a dream world, Diggs soon ends up in a power struggle between three witches. It seems there is a prophecy about a wizard who would come to save the Land of Oz in her hour of need. Diggs, a con man of self-serving morals and shaky resolve, has to make up his mind about whose side he's really on.

Director Sam Raimi's take on Oz is exactly the same as his approach to the Spider-Man movies. There's a sense of whimsy and magical realism behind everything, which is good for the bright, colorful ball of fluff that is the Land of Oz. The highly visual style and imaginative set pieces do the job well, and that's where the movie works best: it's easy on the eyes and so charming that it doesn't really need too much of a plot, which truly would only weigh it down. It's better off taken for the extremely light entertainment that it is.

Rachael Weisz's performance as bad witch Evanora is a solid anchor alongside Michelle Williams as good witch Glinda, a strong, talented actress who will hopefully go much further. Both salvage the film from a nearly somnambulant Franco and an apparently lost Mila Kunis as bad witch Theodora. It doesn't help that the script is shallow and unsophisticated, filled with awkward dialogue and a lack of excitement, but Weisz could make reading a phone book mesmerizing.

Raimi gives us a world that's stunning to look at in the beginning, but after a while it's almost too much to take in. It's a case of playing it too safe and letting the effects take the place of good plotting and character development. Oz is a decent movie, but its flaws make it vapid enough that it lacks any real memorability. Perfect as a fun kid-flick.

review by
Mary Harvey

11 May 2013

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