As a classic, Wizard of Oz is still a movie I haven’t seen but watching it’s prequel seemed sill like a splendid idea at first. As it turned out, it was not delivering as powerfully as one would expect. There were various problems, some more related to the entire plot of the movie but most of the issues were caused by the lack of power behind the acting, in addition, the strong visuals ( cause I didn’t care for 3D) couldn’t salvage the movie to a point of greatness or anything good to be totally honest.
The first thought that popped into my head after watching this movie was the fact that Oz was indeed not magical at all. There were small moments of hope but those didn’t help to lift with the weak and shallow writing. And there are no excuses like it was a kid’s movie – I watch animated movies and those feel more grown-up than Oz the Great and Powerful. Or maybe it was the delivery of the script that made it awkward because the entire cast had moments of weakness which bothered me throughout the movie. Before I get to the weakest link of them all, the mister who I actually don’t hate that much James Franco, I’m gonna start with the ladies because it’s polite to let them have things first – negative comments included.
First up Mila Kunis as Theodora – she wasn’t exactly amazing but at least in the end she looked menacing and threatening. There was something off with the performance Kunis was putting on and I’m not quite sure what it was. Since I like her, I’m gonna say it was the script that made her clumsy, especially in the beginning. Because from the start, the entire character felt a bit awkward and though she was supposed to fall for the Oz right away, I didn’t believe it. Therefore the whole vengeance plot of the movie was weak and quite frankly – for the lack of a better word – childish. But the fact that it is a family movie doesn’t excuse that problem, kids are clever and they deserve better that what Oz the Great and Powerful was giving them. Biggest girl problems I had was with Glinda the Good who was portrayed by Michelle Williams: she just felt blank and empty the entire time. No warmth, just plain boring and so… theatrical! That’s the perfect word for her performance because instead of feeling movie-realistic, it was more suitable for a big stage because everything was a bit too much. For a movie, too much of the soothing voice and the optimistic stare will feel fake and empty. I’m not saying she’s a bad actress, again I want to blame the script and maybe the directing didn’t really pay off as well.
Next to those disconnecting characters, Rachel Weisz’s Evanora felt almost perfect. I don’t think she was but then again the plot didn’t give her much room to work with anyways, but Weisz did the best with what she had. She looked amazing, she had fire in her eyes and I can’t fault her on things she couldn’t control. Among the entire cast, Weisz was a stand out for me and I’m glad that she was there. Otherwise the entire movie would have been such a big disappointment. Therefore, the rating is mainly Weisz’s doing because in addition to the first two witches, James Franco also had absolutely no glue what he was doing! Like I said before, I don’t hate the guy like I hate Ashton Kutcher for instance (maybe that’s what’s wrong with Kunis?) but this role was not for him. It was so far from what he is capable of. Oz was a complicated character from the start and, though Franco nailed the obnoxious douche part like a pro, he never really flipped the switch. He never turned good by becoming the savior in my eyes – therefore, I never believed in the character of Oz.. I can’t blame Franco for this, because when I know he’s more suitable for a certain douche role, the casting director in the land of Hollywood should also be aware of this fact!
I also might have found out the cause of this miscast situation, Franco was NOT the first choice! Two men were offered the role of Oz and both of them would have been far better than Franco – Robert Downey Jr and Johnny Depp. Both amazing actors, both equipped with playing a not so pleasant character and still coming across appealing! Maybe the casting wanted a physical resemblance since there is something similar between Franco and Downey Jr but man – Franco’s metaphoric box of characters is titled BAD GUY and Oz was supposed to turn good! Oh well, I’m rambling too much over the topic of Franco but since he was the main character I do feel like all of this negativity didn’t go to waste. So final words – cast was weak and script was weak.
What did make the entire movie a bit better was the visual aspect, the white fog in particular. But when a movie is literally standing on two things: visual appeal and the nostalgia that is the beloved classic from the late 30’s – nothing good can come of it! I’m greatly disappointed and I haven’t even seen the original which I assume is far better that this. May it look pretty, may it have 3D and big names behind it, if I’m sitting in the audience and nobody is laughing at the jokes the comedic characters (the bellboy and the monkey) are presenting, then the movie is bad! And when I’m being honest here, its only salvation at this point is the fact that I saw a movie that was much worse that Oz the Great and Powerful two days after – hence the rating.
Nice review! I haven’t seen the original either but I feel as if I want to before seeing this. This does sound a little better than I thought it probably would be though.
Well, I went with rating it 2 because of Weisz. I liked her a lot!
Good review Ray. The original is one of the greatest movies of all-time, whereas this one was just okay. Not going to be breaking any records or awards, just going to be a fine movie.
Going to see the original soon I guess… I just want to forget this one first.
I wasn’t going to see this, but I finally saw the original when this first came out because it came up in conversation and then I had to watch it. I know it’s a classic and all, but I wasn’t really feeling it. So, did not see the prequel since the legendary original didn’t impress me that much. If you see the original I hope you enjoy it more than I did because I’m feeling pretty guilty about it to be honest…
Looking at the classics is a difficult thing, it was a different time and the aesthetics might be a bit strange to us now. But I’m trying to stay neutral in terms of classics as I’m going through them for BOT – not rate them and just enjoy them for what they represent.
I think the majority of the problems you had would be remedied if you saw the original first.
Starting with Oz – while I absolutely agree that Franco was miscast, his character and his actions are fantastic beginning and link to the Wizard in WoO. There are also many clever references to the classic film all over the movie and with so many prequels that shit on beloved classics I really appreciated that.
Same with Glinda – she is one dimensional goodie goodie in WoO and that’s why comparing to her I didn’t feel Williams’s Glinda was one dimensional or bland at all – she perfectly blended the sweetness and pure joy of classic Glinda with the playful young witch she was in the prequel.
Well I guess then it only works as a prequel seen after the classic because on its own for me, didn’t do anything for me. Yet, I do appreciate the references to the classic and I’m just disappointed at myself that I haven’t seen the classic.
“Wizard of Oz is still a movie I haven’t seen” wait, WHAT?????
Yeah.. I know.. I’ve seen snippets here and there but not from the beginning to the end. Shame I feel is immense.
Although this isn’t a classic movie I have to admit I quite enjoyed the movie and it made me rewatch The Wizard of Oz to see how the two match up, which was actually very good. Even some scenes match up between the movies.
That’s interesting and I have to check upon that but I went with the “no previous experience” thing to see if it stands on its own. For me, it didn’t that well.