It is quite difficult to compare this film to the original masterpiece released way back in 1939 titled “The Wizard of Oz”. But, I found this film to be a nice tribute to the originator of this fantastic fantasy story conceived by L. Frank Baum and his book first published back in1900. Both Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire are responsible for the screenplay for Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013) a Disney release.
Director Sam Raimi really was the perfect modern day director for this particular film; even though this is his very first PG rated film in the USA. You might know his other work including the The Evil Dead (1981) which remains a cult classic to date. He is known for the television series: Xena: Warrior Princess (1995) and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995) as well.
What the film brings is a real sense of fantasy with its painted digital backgrounds to the costumes the cast had, two of the central characters within the story are completely animated. I found the use of the intro to the film to be rather creative. The beginning film scenes are set both in black in white and purposefully posed in the middle of the screen. Oz then enters his new world as the colors suddenly appear and a new adventure of wonder and excitement is to be enjoyed.
Oscar Diggs is played by actor James Franco, every time I see him, I think of James Dean, I think he can certainly play him in a future film release. As a fan of the short-lived television series Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000) it is nice to see James Franco evolve as an actor. The casting was selective and fitting for Oz: The Great and Powerful and Franco makes for a promising wizard overall.
He meets up with the likes of Mila Kunis, you might know her from television’s That ’70s Show (1998) or her role in other films like Black Swan (2010). In the land of Oz, she is Theodora, the sister of Evanora, played by British actress Rachel Weisz known for The Mummy (1999) among her other film roles. Michelle Williams portrays Annie / Glinda in this film and was captivating in every scene. You might know her from My Week with Marilyn (2011) or television’s Dawson’s Creek (1998).
If you recognized the voice of the small animated China Girl, it is the same actress Joey King who first appears in the beginning part of the films tent show as the cripple Girl in Wheelchair. Zach Braff also plays several roles in this as both Frank and Finley the animated monkey. Veteran actor Bill Cobbs appears in this as the Master Tinker and Tony Cox is Knuck. It is interesting to see Bruce Campbell in this is the Winkie Gate Keeper. (He has previously worked with director Sam Raimi and his brother Ted Raimi as the Skeptic in Audience. Both of these actors are from the Xena: Warrior Princess (1995) television series.
The original film had such an amazing soundtrack and characters were magnificent. This film focuses more on the origination of the character Oz and how he comes to his new found world after being swept away in Kansas from a mysterious tornado storm. His profound use of tricks were used to test the people’s wallets. He soon discovers, that not everything is about golden coins and friendship and love matters much, much more. Through the use of his magic trickery he fends off foes of the people through ingenuity and strategy.
The main part of the story or rather quest is for Oz to defeat the wicked witch and her sister to free the land of evil deeds and let the people live in peace and harmony. This was rather an effective yet old tale which holds up for some all around movie going fun. A film such as this is best enjoyed with others you know. I recommend catching this magic show while its still in theaters.