It sure looks like the Wicked movie adaptation won’t be happening anytime soon now that Disney has released their own unofficial prequel to “The Wizard of Oz”. Like the title suggests, this film focuses on who Oz was, how he came to the land of Oz and how he became….the wizard of Oz!
The story begins in Kansas, where Oscar Diggs is a second-rate magician in a small touring circus. It doesn’t take long before he gets himself into trouble with not only his audience but also a strongman in the traveling group. Oscar makes his escape in a hot air balloon but is soon sucked up into a tornado and thrown into the magical land of Oz. Soon after landing, he meets Theodora who informs him of a legend in the land of Oz that speaks of a great man named Oz who will save them from the Wicked Witch. On his journey, Oscar is joined by a flying monkey and a little china-glass girl who help him become, you guessed it, Oz the Great and Powerful!
Sam Raimi, of Evil Dead and Spider-Man fame, brings his own dark and quirky vision to the land of Oz but it feels as if it was severely tamed down by his Disney overlords. James Franco stars as Oscar aka Oz, Mila Kunis as Theodora, Rachel Weisz as Evanora, and Michelle Williams as Glinda. Zach Braff and Joey King lend their voices as the Flying Monkey and China Doll Girl respectively. Also for fans of Sam Raimi’s films, keep an eye out for a small cameo by Bruce Campbell. Unfortunately for the film, the cast never really feels like they are inside the skin of the characters they’re portraying. (Especially it’s main stars, James Franco and Mila Kunis.)
While never a very good comedy, action, or fantasy movie, “Oz the Great and Powerful” manages to slide by on little jokes, its digital environments, and the sheer combined talent of all involved. Probably best for the young teens or “tween” audiences since parts of it might be too weird or scary for younger viewers.
Also, the 3D was passable. Most of the time it didn’t add much and only really detracted from the enjoyment of the film in a few dark scenes. Although the finale did have a couple “wow” moments with the glasses on.