“A Refreshing Take on a Much-Loved Story” 7/10
Oz The Great and Powerful tells the charming tale of the famous Wizard of Oz, Oscar (James Franco), a struggling magician from Kansas who finds himself whisked away to the magical land of Oz and expected to save it from the Wicked Witch. Meeting many magical creatures and a few witches along the way, Oscar must prove himself a worthy magician and defeat evil.
With the famous foundation film, The Wizard of Oz (1939) being so popular even today, it’s not surprising that another spin-off has been made, but it does not try to simply redress the old story. Instead, it keeps some of the old characters such as the Good Witch, and tells the story in a completely unseen way, introducing a host of new characters and a completely different angle to the much-loved tale, although the story remains fairly simplistic. The film itself is visually stunning, both in special effects and the colourful fairyland landscape of Oz – it reminds me of a more “tripped out” version of the latest Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) film – which is made even more vibrant by the tasteful black and white of Kansas (a nice homage to The Wizard of Oz). The effects are put to use again in an almost-3D style with many things “popping” out of the screen, which I can imagine children would find thrilling, particularly in 3D.
James Franco is charming as the great Wizard himself, only occasionally toppling over into some cheesy moments when he’s trying to impress the ladies. The three witches Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams, all bring strong, feisty characters that give this film its punch; and of course it wouldn’t be Oz without some magical characters such as Finley the flying monkey (voiced by Zack Braff) and the China girl (voiced by Joey King), who add a sweeter dimension to the film that kids will love.
Visually impressive and offering a refreshing take on a much-loved story, Oz The Great and Powerful is a fun family film that all ages can enjoy.