With its spellbinding imagery, Oz The Great and Powerful is a most pleasing fantasy adventure.
Oscar Diggs is a fairground magician always on the look out for the next scam. When he is swept away to the magical land of Oz, the inhabitants believe him to be the great wizard that they have been waiting for…
Oz The Great and Powerful functions both as a prequel to 1939’s The Wizard of Oz and a homage to it. The film tells the tale of the man behind the wizard, and how he came to hold such a powerful position. Oz The Great and Powerful fills in the back story to an important character in the Oz realm, but one who takes a backseat in the 1939 film.
Sam Raimi’s film features plenty of nods to the 1939 classic. Fans should be pleased with these, as they fall into the loving homage category, rather than an attempt to ape the original. Unlike Return to Oz, Oz The Great and Powerful maintains the style of the 1939 film. Despite over seventy years passing since The Wizard of Oz, Sam Raimi’s film retains its style. The opening in particular is a great homage to Victor Fleming’s film.
The narrative fits the conventions of this style of fantasy. The dialogue is imbued with a healthy does of schmaltz. However, The Wizard of Oz itself was also ripe with sentimentality, so this should not surprise. The schmaltz does not make Oz The Great and Powerful a bad film by any means; however those not keen on whimsy may find it too cheesy. The film introduces some new characters to the sphere. These wok well, particularly sidekick Finley.
Oz The Great and Powerful is a majestic amalgamation of live action and CGI. The two formats are blended together so well, the separation is not really noticeable. The film makes the most of colour, in keeping with its predecessor, and is incredibly effective in creating the fantasy world of Oz. It is really worth seeing Oz The Great and Powerful in 3D; as the depth does add something. Danny Elfman’s score is also good.
Performances from the stellar cast are strong. James Franco is most believable as the magician of dubious morals. Rachel Weisz is perfectly cast as Evanora, while Michelle Williams makes a suitably ethereal Glinda. Mila Kunis also excels as Theodora.
Fans of The Wizard of Oz should find Oz The Great and Powerful to be a lovingly crafted addition to the Oz universe. Highly recommended for fantasy aficionados.