COURTESY OF DISNEY
Disney’s trend of adapting classic novels like “Alice in Wonderland” and “John Carter” is continuing to blaze ahead with the another high profile reimagining: “Oz the Great and Powerful.”
The film works excellently as a prequel for “The Wizard of Oz,” setting up the circumstances for the original film, but director Sam Raimi (the “Spider-Man” trilogy) unfortunately does not bring anything visually interesting or unique to the film. In essence, Raimi seems to be imitating Tim Burton in the dependence on CGI and a typical storyline.
Fittingly, in imitation of the original movie, “Oz The Great and Powerful” opens with a black and white color palette. Protagonist Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs, or Oz for short (James Franco, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) is working as a phony magician for a carnival. However, he tells his bigger ambitions. He confides in former flame Annie—- played by Michelle Williams (“My Week With Marilyn”), who pulls double duty as Glinda the Good Witch.
“I don’t want to be a good man, I want to be a great one,” he says.
Soon enough, just like Dorothy in the original, a freak tornado transports him into the color-filled, vibrant land of Oz, where he is welcomed as the great savior, despite having no actual magic abilities. In spite of this rather big problem, he must now defeat not one, but two wicked witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis, “Ted”) and Evanora (Rachel Weisz, “The Bourne Legacy”) and bring peace to the land.
While Franco gives an appropriately hammy and fun performance as the Wizard, and Kunis is excellent as the Witch, the plot is very run of the mill. The bellyful laughs are few and far between, and the 3-D effects are nothing extra-spectacular.
If you were a fan of Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” this CGI extravaganza might be up your alley. But if not, there is no need to pay $13.50 to see this film.