Oz The Great And Powerful **

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Another week and another classic film is rebooted, remade, or re-imagined. Whatever the term they use to justify exploiting classic films for the sole purpose of cashing in on our nostalgia. This time it is a prequel to “The Wizard Of Oz”, one of my all time favourite films. Sadly it lacks anything that made the original so charming and entertaining.

Pretty much every frame is created with computer generated images. What happened to the days when movies used to feature physical sets. Using computer animation for everything makes me feel like i’m watching a cartoon. There is no sense of a physical space I had the same problem with Tim Burton’s “Alice In Wonderland” which was overstuffed with visual effects as well. After seeing this movie I decided to watch the original right after and found it so much more engaging to see real buildings with real paint. Characters that were either made up with make up effects or costumes.

Now I can forgive any film for it’s short comings if it has great characters, dialogue and an original story. Sadly, the screenplay for “Oz The Great And Powerful” is simply designed to get us from one visual spectacle to another. The plot elements are poached from many other fantasy films. The land of Oz is under the spell of two evil sister witches and only a great wizard can defeat them and save the good people.

James Franco plays the Wizard. He is basically a con man who can some how woo many ladies with his fake charms. Franco is a good actor but here his performance seems overwhelmed by the visual overkill. Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis play the wicked witches of the east and west respectfully. Weisz is the only person on screen who actually creates an appropriate fantasy character. Kunis on the other hand over acts to an excruciating level. She is the wrong choice for this role.

“Oz The Great And Powerful” was directed by Sam Raimi, who does give us some interesting moments occasionally, especially when the Wizard demonstrates a familiar trick to defeat the witches. But most of this film had me scratching my head at why Raimi even took on this project. Since it has opened he has already stated that he will not return for a sequel. Maybe he directed this as a gateway to some passion project but it seems odd that a director like Raimi can’t make anything he wants at this point.

There are two fantasy films in the marketplace right now and one is getting way more attention than the other. I speak of “Jack The Giant Slayer” and of course “Oz”. “Jack” is the better film but “Oz” is overshadowing it in ticket sales. As I stated before the studios are exploiting people’s nostalgia for money and it is working.

I also wanted to comment on the 3D. It added nothing but extra cost here so if you must see this film then I suggest you save yourself the extra cost and see it in 2D.

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