Journey back into the magical world of Oz, as Sam Raimi steps up to take this old, much-loved franchise to new, unexplored territory as it explores the beginnings of the Wizard of Oz himself. Eight months ago, the first trailer was unveiled at Comic Con and I was hooked from the two-minute snippet we got. The movie stars James Franco as Oscar, (who likes to be known as Oz) a carnival magician who likes money and women; he lies and cheats his way through life but deep down he truly dreams of being remembered.
The opening 15 minutes or so are filmed in black and white as we see Oscar work as a carnival magician – the black and white and the cameos of some of the actors we’ll see in Oz later are just the first homage’s to the Wizard of Oz movie. The first images we get of Oz are bright and colourful; truly magical and Oz explores his new surroundings like an excitable puppy. We meet the first of three witches here – Theodora (played by Mila Kunis) is a beautiful, good-natured witch, but quite naïve in some respects. From here Oz is thrown headfirst into an unwanted quest to make the Land of Oz safe and happy again. Theodora takes Oz to see her sister Evanora (played by Rachel Weisz) and then later meets Glinda (Michelle Williams), both of whom give Oz different perspectives of who the ‘wicked’ witch of Oz is.
As this is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz and many know who the chief villain is in that movie, it may come to no surprise that one of those witches does don the green make up and the pointy hat, although I won’t spoil it for you and reveal which one of the witches it is. The main cast are great in their roles with Franco putting in a great performance of a man who wants to be remembered and along the way, is embroiled in a prophecy that isn’t his to own forcing him to be a reluctant hero. Rachel Weisz is also one of my favourite actresses, and I love anything that she is in, and she shows a different side to her acting capabilities in this movie. Williams and Kunis also are great in their roles and Zach Braff brings added character to the flying monkey Finley, who Oz befriends on his journey through Oz.
Overall, this movie is a great film and is suitable for children as well as adults. For those that love watching The Wizard of Oz when it comes on TV, this film is certainly for you, with small homage’s to the original film ciphered into the plot. It’s doing well at the box office, and there is already talk of a potential sequel to the film. I urge everyone to take a walk down memory lane, and that yellow brick road.
Oz: I don’t want to be a good man… I want to be a great one. (Oz: The Great and Powerful)