Dir. Sam Rami
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
“I don't want to be a good man... I want to be a great one.”
Ever wondered just how the Wizard of Oz got to Oz and became their wizard?
What about how and why the Wicked Witch of the West turned bad (or green for that matter)?
Sheesh, obviously you’ve not seen Wicked the musical, that’s ok, perhaps you’re just not into musical theatre and show tunes… but fear not – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures have thought about this and made Oz The Great and Powerful to be the definitive prequel to The Wizard of Oz.
Director Sam ‘Spiderman’ Rami goes all out to deliver a visually lavish telling of how young Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is whisked from Kansas to the Land of Oz via first class tornado express.
"living dolls and talking / flying monkeys"
No sooner has Diggs crash landed in Oz – wonderfully depicted by the film changing form black and white to full eye-popping colour - when he meets the sexy Theodora (Mila Kunis), who falls for him and lets him know that he arrival has been foretold.
The other two witches of Oz are Evanora (Rachel Weisz) who might be hiding her true nature and Glinda (Michelle Williams), neither or which are convinced that Diggs is the great wizard everyone's been expecting.
In order to ascend to be king of Oz, Diggs must slay the wicked witch and free the land from her evil but he’s a reluctant hero. Is he up to this quest?
The film works well given the limitations of being a prequel where we know the main characters will survive to meet Dorothy and the rest. This yellow brick road is a super-highway of stunning CGI and nicely added new characters such as a charming China Girl voiced by Joey King (soon to be seen in White House Down).
"which witch is which?"
Rami brings some good jump moments, enough implied threat and sufficient soul searching in the hero to win the audience over. I saw this my two sons, my wife and my elderly mother – all of whom enjoyed it which shows that Disney still know how to create films ‘for all the family’!?
Overall Oz The Great and Powerful is actually a pretty ‘wizard’ effort, and its blessed with some even prettier witches… If you’re a Wizard of Oz fan, this is essential viewing and if you’re not a fan (yet) this is a great intro.
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:
öööö - click those heels and make a wish!
4 – Disney do the Oz mythos proud
Awesomeness ööö – razzle dazzle ahoy
Laughs ööö – some funny bits
Horror öö – not too grim, might unsettle youngsters in places
Babes ööö – Kunis, Weisz and Williams are all cute
Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - find your inner courage to do what's right