Don’t go to Oz
Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful is a prequel that returns viewers back to the world of the 1939 classic, The Wizard of Oz. The story that the film revolves around the mysterious wizard known only as “Oz,” who in the 1939 movie worked behind a curtain in order to portray himself as an oracle of prophetic proportions to those who all that came to him seeking advice. Of course, we all remember the big reveal when the curtain is drawn and we see that Oz isn’t the god-like character that we imagined him to be, but merely an average human being.
However, Raimi’s installment paints the backstory of how things came to be prior to Dorothy’s trotting down the yellow brick road. In order to accomplish this, the 2013 film chooses to deliver the narrative through the perspective of small-time magician, Oscar Diggs, played by James Franco, who later assumes the title role of Oz following his unexpected trip to the Land of Oz from Kansas.
Given that we live in an age of Hollywood cinema where original and authentic stories are hard to come by, starved screenwriters have turned to drafting remakes, sequels, and prequels rather than coming up with unique stories of their own. The result is an excessive amount of big budget and CGI stuffed movies that hope to garner a profit as previous films did, regardless of when it was first released. But beyond the layers of special effects and big name actors the film as a whole fails to really come into its own, suffering greatly from the fact that none of the characters really evolve.
It’s your typical tale of cause and effect, with nothing innovative besides the opportunity to stare at the reimagined beauty of the Land of Oz that we all so fondly remember. Unfortunately, with every prequel comes the expectation that the film will recapture the magic of the first film, while also adding something new to differentiate itself as a separate and genuine picture altogether. This task is a daunting one, but with a director like Raimi, who is credited with the Spider-Man trilogy and some horror classics, one had hopes going into this film that it wouldn’t be just another prequel to forget in a month’s time.
Despite the films shortcomings, the stellar cast features the likes of Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, and Rachel Weisz alongside Franco. Oz the Great and Powerful had the makings of a real hit but it fell short.
Not even Zach Braff, the star of the beloved series Scrubs, playing Oz’s monkey assistant, could save this movie.