by: Megan Isbitski — Staff Writer
You can tell a movie is a Walt Disney Production when the graphics are stunning and has the message that everyone is inherently good and anything is possible. Oz: The Great and Powerful is no different.
James Franco, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis are the headliners in this blockbuster, the prequel to The Wizard of Oz. It tells the story pre-Dorothy, explaining how the wise ruler of the land (also named Oz) came to be. I have no clue how Franco scored this role.
Franco plays Oz, a manipulative womanizer with a heart of gold. This is Disney, after all. He makes his pay by scamming people into believing he is a powerful magician with use of illusions. He lands in Oz after recovering from a failed scheme. Upon arriving in Oz, Theodora, played by Mila Kunis, mistakes him for a wizard meant to come fulfill a prophecy and save their world.
The graphics are absolutely stunning. The hyperrealism is astounding, making the entire land of Oz appear highly saturated. I couldn’t look away. It wasn’t due to believable acting, emotional ties to the characters or a remarkable plot. The surreal land of Oz was painted beautifully and graphics, such as rolling smoke and a small girl made of porcelain, were captivating. The rest of the movie, not as much.
Although I’m factoring in that I am not the demographic, the movie fell short, especially after learning it is a Disney film. The acting seemed forced and Franco’s portrayal of Oz wasn’t likable. The doofy man calls Glinda “Wanda” multiple times in the film and uses cheesy lines on naïve women the entire narrative.
Mila Kunis plays Theodora, a good witch that goes bad after her sister tricked her into thinking that Oz was two-timing her with Glinda. Kunis was definitely not a good choice for this movie. Her acting is not good enough to break into roles where she has to be anything but pretty. Kunis’ fake crying was painful to watch and listen to and her villainous laugh was pitiful. However, she looked damn good with red lipstick.
I was expecting a lot when I saw this movie due to the $100 million budget and the names involved. While it disappointed me, it seems like the perfect family film and will definitely be a favorite with fans of The Wizard of Oz. While it was two hours long and lagged at times, the writing was geared for a young audience, the villains weren’t too scary and the ending put everything in its place.
Oz: The Great and Powerful was clever with its continuity, though. The role of any prequel is to explain the way things are in the original movie. The explanation for the wizard in The Wizard of Oz is because Oz himself is a phony with no magic powers. The film mentions the reasons why the lion, scarecrow and tin man are without their respective courage, brain and heart. Watching the traditional elements come into play is familiar and is a nice way to invoke the emotions of the audience.
Overall, the film was aesthetically pleasing and the message was definitely one of importance to its ideal demographic. My rant shouldn’t deter you from viewing this film. Should you choose to watch this film, wait until it comes out on DVD and watch it when your father is trying to bond with you.