Wednesday, July 17, 2013

3 Short Paragraphs: Oz the Great and Powerful

2013, Sam Raimi (The Quick & the Dead, Spiderman) -- download

Pretend you don't know anything about movies. Pretend you are one of those people who only downloads blockbusters or, in the day, only rented videos. Perhaps, as one of these people (and yes, you may visualize me as the film snob, tweed jacket and turtle neck) you believe that this movie must be done by the same people as the Alice in Wonderland that came out a few years ago. They are both brightly colored, mostly CGI and filled with fantastical characters that are not even there for the actors to work with. The tie actually lies in the production designer Robert Stromberg. Known in the visual effects world, he recently came over to production design with Avatar and Alice in Wonderland, which is not surprising coming from the world of computer graphics. But it was with each film's director, this man stood out capturing the dark mind of Tim Burton in Alice and really going with Raimi's overly saturated story telling in Oz.

You might also be that guy who never remembers that the wizard of Oz was never really much of a wizard, but more the charlatan behind the curtains. OK, maybe not you but I was that guy. Take away my turtleneck now. Raimi decided to tell the story of the man behind the curtains, from his oafish magic act in Kansas all the way past the tornado to rule the Kingdom of Oz. Oscar "Oz" Diggs (James Franco) ends up in Oz (he really should be more impressed they share a name) partly because of his escapades and partly because of a prophecy (we really cannot discount it, can we) where he will defeat the Evil Witch and become ruler. For the people, its about a benevolent leader. For him, its the dragon's hoard of gold. And the cute girls. Apparently, witches are not all / always green and ugly.

And it is with these witches, we get the true main characters. He first meets the adorable (forgive me while i swoon) Theodora (Mila Kunis) when he arrives and she is all about the prophecy, and his role in it, thus immediately falling in love with him. In another movie he would have slept with her, the cad, but in this one he is her first dance. Her sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) sees him as a means to and end, prophesied wizard or not. And poor misunderstood Glinda, the brightest of the three and dubbed the Wicked Witch, when really she is just sweet and smart. She makes good use of Oz, despite his failings. And poor little Theodora is just used, used by Oz and used by her sister, to end up transmogrified into the worst that Oz can give, out-evilling the evil Evanora. Poo. And she doesn't even have a chance to be reverted and rescued before Dorothy comes along and douses her with a bucket of water. OK, that is not this movie but it was all I was thinking as I watched poor sweet innocent (if a bit scary) Theodora become a green skinned evil witch. At least Evanora gets her come-uppance, or come-downance with a house on the noggin.

Graig's review is here.