Okay – I’m a big fan of The Wizard Of Oz. Like many people my age (and older. and slightly younger.), I grew up with The Wizard Of Oz and it was as important to me in my childhood as Star Wars was. Well, okay – Stars Wars was a bit more important… And Star Wars remains that way for me in adulthood in a way that The Wizard Of Oz doesn’t so much. But I still don’t want it tampered with in a way that might taint it for me. The original Star Wars trilogy has been slightly tainted by the prequels. But at least there were still enough good things in the prequels to make up for the Jar Jar moments. Unfortunately, Oz The Great And Powerful is like one long Jar Jar moment.
Before I trash this movie too much, I should point out that I haven’t read any of the L Frank Baum stuff. I read quite a lot but I’ve just never read anything he’s written, even though I was a big fan of The Wizard Of Oz. So bear in mind as I discuss Oz that I can’t help but compare the two movies as it’s all I know.
Where to start…. Hm. At the beginning, I guess. I almost didn’t mind this movie at first. I liked the look of it when it was all in black & white at the beginning. Probably helps that it was a travelling circus – I’ve always found old fashioned travelling circuses fascinating. I think I’d have been much happier if James Franco had never left & gone to Oz! Within maybe ten minutes of him being in Oz, I had this sinking feeling that the movie was going to go downhill fast. And it did. How bad is that?! In The Wizard Of Oz, Oz is such a magical place and you can’t help but get this great sense of wonder when Dorothy opens the door onto this strange & colorful place, even after seeing the movie dozens of times. And that movie came out in 1939! How can a 2013 movie, with all the amazing advances in filmmaking & special effects, turn Oz into such a boring place?! Seriously!
I know things in The Wizard Of Oz are all pretty strange & trippy. Munchkins, talking apple trees, flying monkeys, a talking scarecrow & tin man & lion, etc. Yet that movie made us believe in these things, even though it was all crazy. Even with that old-fashioned hammy acting and some not-so-great special effects. It all just… Worked. The characters in this 2013 movie left me cold. I felt nothing for any of them. They spent too much time on the (not very impressive anyway) CGI and forgot about developing the characters and making us care about them. And forgot about making the script halfway decent. And forgot about acting…
The acting! I thought the acting in the new Oz was almost embarrassing. As I said, it was a bit hammy in 1939. But that’s fine. It worked. That was a different time. It didn’t work in Oz The Great And Powerful. Perhaps it would have been better if they’d gone really over the top and hammed it up even more? I don’t know… Probably not. I just found all the acting in it very odd. Don’t know how else to explain it. I mean, the little china girl showed more depth than any of the human actors. The talking monkey did too. These are all pretty good actors I’ve liked just fine in other things so I don’t know if it was the fault of the script or the directing or what. But… Wow. I just really didn’t CARE about any of them. I didn’t even really care about anything other than the movie finishing. That’s not like me when it comes to movies!
I’m just ranting now. I should probably finish otherwise I’ll just go on & on. I do apologize – I usually do slightly better reviews than this. I was going to put a lot more thought into this review & break it down into specifically what I didn’t like and TRY to think of a few positive things to say. But I’m tired. And I cared so little about this movie that I don’t want to waste much more time on it. So to sum up: I didn’t really like Oz The Great And Powerful. 😉 Yes, a big part of the problem is probably that I love The Wizard Of Oz. If you really love that movie, I don’t think you’ll like Oz The Great And Powerful. If you don’t like the 1939 movie, you MIGHT like this 2013 movie. I don’t know. I’ve tried to think about how I’d feel about this movie if the 1939 movie didn’t exist. To be honest, I think I’d still dislike it just as much. But at least I wouldn’t be angry about it tainting a beloved classic.
My Rating: 4.5/10
*Here’s a positive – I do think kids will enjoy it. Maybe ages 7 to 11 or so? But that’s a very small age range. There’s nothing wrong with making movies aimed at children but it IS possible to make a movie that both children AND adults can love. Just ask Pixar.
*Another positive: Bruce Campbell.
*Another positive: The Bowie song China Girl kept going through my head whenever the little china girl was on screen. Let’s look at his mugshot. The coolest mugshot ever.