Oz: The Great and Powerful Movie Review

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Oz:The Great and Powerful Movie Review

August 25, 1939- a classic movie leaped off the pages from L. Frank Baum’s books and onto the screen. The Wizard of Oz is still a memorable must see movie for all ages, and I doubt that will ever change.

Did you know that there were nine series of books set in the Land of Oz?

Well, Sam Raimi- known for directing the Spider-Man movies as well as the Evil Dead series- decided to make a brand new addition to the legend. Oz: The Great and Powerful is set 20 years before Dorothy and Toto’s visit to Oz.

We follow the life of Oscar Diggs first seen at his circus magic show in Kansas in 1905. Thankfully they continued the black and white theme while in reality (good choice). He is suddenly taken up into a hot air balloon as a tornado hits the land. Somehow he survives the twister and makes it out of the dark and into the light of Oz. The color comes back to the screen, which wasn’t as amazing as in Wizard of Oz, mostly because it was the first famous movie to use color (the first actual movie to use color was Cupid Angling in 1918). The land of Oz looked different but some say in a good way. In Wizard of Oz you don’t see much of the surroundings other than the land of Munchkins and the scenery along the yellow brick road. In Oz: The Great and Powerful we got to see Oscar (his nickname is Oz) see the beautiful land in which he is arriving.

My biggest complaint is how fake everything looked. It’s funny how well Wizard of Oz pulled everything off in 1939, but this century couldn’t even make a realistic Land of Oz…

Now as Oscar, or Oz, finally lands after a wild ride down some waterfalls and passing huge lifelike flowers, we meet Theodora (played by Mila Kunis) who then thinks this Oz is the from a prophecy- he supposedly saves the land from this awful witch and her band of flying monkeys (who look more like baboons).

Now, in the 1939 film they only mention one race (Munchkins) that lives in this land. Later we meet the Winkies and the Quadlings, and of course there are still Munchkins. So we get to meet a few more races along the way- the first is the China Dolls who live in Dainty China Country- a.k.a. an enlarged porcelain tea set. It seems to have been ransacked by these flying monkeys (which we haven’t seen yet) but Oz and Finley find one china doll still alive. Her legs are broken but Oz just so happens to have some glue in the one bag he saved from the hot air balloon- how convenient!

We get to travel through the haunted forest later in the story (which looks somewhat similar to the one in the 1939 film, but they could have made it more clear and recognizable). When we reach Munchin land, this is where we catch some glimpses of the original Wizard of Oz seeping through. They build mechanical scarecrows to distract the evil witches, they travel through the field of poppies that put everyone to sleep, and we see the funny looking guards (although they weren’t green like in the Wizard of Oz movie).

A little “did you know” moment occurred to me during this. Sam Raimi, the director of this movie, has been friends with Bruce Campbell (who starred in the Evil Dead series) since college. They made Super 8 movies all the time together. So of course when they both became famous, Sam Raimi puts Bruce Campbell in almost every film he has ever made. During the scene where Oz goes to the gate with his new contraption hiding in a carriage, the gatekeeper is in fact Bruce Campbell! I was looking for him the entire movie, and was very satisfied when I found him…

My Conclusion

The continuity between the 1939 film and the books could have been better. They used some of the same techniques- like in the world of Kansas the characters resemble the ones in Oz. There could have been less CGI and more realistic sets and characters, but they did do a good job on Finley, the monkey.

Overall, I felt like this movie was just missing that original magic that we all still remember from the Wizard of Oz film. I missed the color changing horses and the cute little songs, and Glinda’s big poofy pink dress and crown.

I know that Sam Raimi along with everyone involved with this movie wanted to make it different and unique, not just an addition or copycat to the older film. But some things should not be messed with or altered.

I am glad, however, that they didn’t try to remake Wizard of Oz. At least I can be thankful for that.

I suggest seeing the movie, just so you can have your own thoughts on it. Then maybe rewatch Wizard of Oz so you can truly remember how great the story will always be.

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