Oz The Great And Powerful Review

Conmen, charlatans, chancers; call men what you will, but most of us just make things up as we go along.

I know I do, and so does James Franco’s fly by Kansas magician Oscar Diggs.

You see Oscar, Oz to his friends, has big plans to be a great man, not merely a good one like his father was.

Which is why he’s set himself up in a travelling circus as a magician; unfortunately, the only trick he’s really mastered is how to pull the wool over many a young girl’s eyes with a music box and some sleight of word.

To be fair though, if you’re going to master one trick it may as well be this one.

Of course, there’s a price to pay for living your life this way and it seems the big tent’s strongest man act is more than willing to physically remind Oz of this when he hears about the magic trick he performed on said strong man’s woman.

Living off your wits has its advantages though, mostly teaching you the importance of resourcefulness and improvisation in life; so before you can say hot air balloon, Oz has hightailed it out of the circus and up, up and away on a beautiful helium powered ride.

Alas, luck is not something you can control, and Oz’s looks to have run out as his escape plan gets sucked into the eye of a vicious storm.

Like any self-respecting scoundrel, our less than magic man quickly sets about praying to Jesus, Allah, The Batman or whatever other deity might be nearby, promising to change his ways if saved from his current predicament.

Lo and behold, Oz gets delivered from evil and into the heart of a wondrous new land also called Oz.

Mistaken for a great wizard destined to save the land by some pretty little thing called Theodora, Oz quickly forgets his recent vow and sets about stealing the heart of another impressionable girl.

Only this time, he may have taken on more than he can handle.

Now strike me down with a wicked witch’s wand, but I’ve never actually seen The Wizard Of Oz, nor the more recent sequel Return To Oz despite the best efforts of some of my friends.

So there may be a whole lot going on in Oz The Great And Powerful that simply flies over my ignorant head, but I quite enjoyed this prequel to the classic film of yore anyway.

Sure it’s campy and is meant for little kids more than big ones like me, but the stunning visual effects will make you feel like you’ve stepped into another world.

And what else is cinema like Oz The Great And Powerful meant to do?

Director Sam Raimi has assembled a stunning cast to look at, even if their acting skills don’t quite live up to their hollywood faces just yet, with the gorgeous Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams playing a trio of witches, some who are wicked and some who are not, Zach Braff provides some comic relief as a flying monkey and then there’s James Franco as Oz.

Now I like Franco, he’s certainly brave in the film choices he makes and he’s perfectly suited to the ladies’ man part of his character here, but I never really felt like he pulled off that transformation from boy to man on his journey through Oz.

Franco might just be too young, or maybe hasn’t gone through enough hard times, to convincingly play this role because by the end he still feels like a boy to me.

There are plenty of fun characters throughout Oz The Great And Powerful, none more entertaining than a little China doll girl Oz manages to put back together, and even though the story loses some of its magic by the end, it’s still one of those films to see for yourself on the big screen.

As for boys becoming men in a non-motown philly kind of way, it usually takes some girl to believe in them first.

Sometimes, that’s all they need.

Jonathan Campbell

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March 2013
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