Oz, Not so Powerful, Not so Great

Review: The Great and Powerful Oz

Christos Liardakis , Opinions Editor


3.5 out of 5 Stars

The Great and Powerful Oz
Courtesy of Disney

James Franco’s performance as the con-magician Oscar (Oz) was neither great nor powerful. The movie starts off in Kansas with Oz working as a carnival magician. The story focuses on a con man’s trick simply getting out of hand as Franco finds himself in the Land of Oz with the responsibility of “killing the wickedest witch” thrust upon him due to his charade and the expectations of the people around him.
From the very beginning we are introduced to his bravado of fooling women while chasing dreams of fame and fortune. Unfortunately his bravado is botched after stealing the heart of the wrong woman who is already married. It is through this incident that Oz, in the process of escaping finds himself in a hot weather balloon headed for a tornado that lands him in the Land of Oz . It is here where viewers meet the youngest of three witches Theodora, played by Mila Kunis. Along with Rachel Weisz as Evanora, the wickedest of all witches, the two make sparks fly in their interactions. While Theodora seems like a naïve and passionate damsel who simply gets consumed by her emotions, Evanora gives off a clear but subtle malice while playing with her sister’s feelings.
The acting in general is amazing as Joey King plays the role of the sweet and innocent china doll and Zach Braff plays the role of Frank, the flying monkey (not to be mistaken with Evanora’s flying baboons). While the cinematography veers away from the bright and vivid Land of Oz in Dorothy’s version, director Sam Raimi paints the land in a more dark and somber mood, revealing that all is not well in the Land of Oz tainting what was once a vibrant landscape with dark hues. Any sense of vivid and vibrant coloration is lost after Theodora becomes slave to her jealousy, turning into the jealous green witch. The audience does not see this again until later in the film when the good witch, Glinda takes Oz to her sanctuary where they prepare to make their stand against the wicked witches. The story focuses strongly on whether Oz will fall privy to.
Overall The Great and Powerful Oz is a great movie. Many people will make the mistake of comparing it to the 1939 musical work. Unfortunately, doing so will be a disappointment; Sam Raimi goes very much out of his way to make sure everyone is aware that he is not trying to mimic the original work but to simply tell the story in a cinematic fashion appropriate for the year 2013, not 1939. The only complaint for this movie is that James Franco simply gets out-performed by all of his co-stars. It’s not that his acting is bad; it’s just that everyone outshines him. Unfortunately this one mistake is a huge set-back since the movie is about Oz, not Glinda, Theodora, the china doll or Frank. Oz is simply not as great as the rest.