Let’s kick this off with something modern: Oz the Great and Powerful. Wait…modern? The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900 and Baum stretched the series into 14 books over the following 20 years. Now, I wasn’t looking forward to the movie much at all. Sure, I was familiar with the cast, but not under the impression the movie from 1939 needed a prequel unrelated to Baum at all. Did Hollywood really need to milk the franchise? Furthermore, where was American McGee’s videogame adaptation?
Settling down to watch the film, it was in this crappy fullscreen box and I literally had to check if something was wrong with my settings. Either way, I let the movie keep going. James Franco was practically playing a parody of himself as he donned the guise of Oz, a swindling illusionist, which had its own charm, and the tornado itself was decidedly Raimi-esque. It was intense, but laughable. Then came the transition into the world of Oz. Finally, my TV was ablaze with color, and in widescreen! The majestic color scheme reminded me of Trine, for those who’ve played it. The transition was as impressive as the jump into color must’ve been in the 1939 classic.
Without spoiling the movie, I’ll say the world created was impressive, though parts of the plot were predictable. I found myself drawn in regardless, realizing there was more to it all than what’d been marketed. It’s also an origin tale for other main characters in the Land of Oz, such as our favorite witch. The lion is there as an actual lion, making a feral cameo and displaying the confidence and surety of Raimi’s image for the films. Even when treading new territory, key images, such as scarecrows, were used as key plot devices. Maybe the sequel will tell the tales of Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion before we get a genuine reimagining of the first book? Perhaps the sequels?
Critical reviews were a mixed bag, but I thoroughly enjoyed the personality brought to one of my favorite mystical lands. It also beat the tar out of what Tim Burton did with Alice in Wonderland.
What are your thoughts? Did Sam Raimi do well? What is your favorite iteration of Oz? Don’t forget how many there are on film alone. How about theWicked book series? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0884726/trivia?tab=mc&ref_=tt_trv_cnn