“The Wizard of Oz” is that story, and “Over the Rainbow” is that song. Both express something we’ve all felt at one time or another, that we would be happier if only we could be somewhere else, that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, or over the rainbow in this case.
I’ve loved “The Wizard of Oz” since my childhood, when I first saw it on television, in the days before DVD players and On Demand, and when you had to wait for it to come on once a year. I fought with my cousin when he burst my bubble and told me that it was all a dream, not wanting to believe that the magic didn’t happen to Dorothy, and as an adult, I still believe it did.
So, why mess with perfection?
The previews of “Oz the Great and Powerful” thrilled me like no other because as a writer and reader, I love back-story. A visit to my multiplex would answer a lot of my questions, since I haven’t seen or read “Wicked”, the story of the Wicked Witches of the East and West and why they turned evil. I also decided to fork up the extra bucks and see it in 3D since I never experienced it before, and this looked like the perfect movie to give it a try.
And it was a magnificent visual banquet. The colorful images danced before your eyes in 3D, and unfortunately they were the best part of the movie. The story itself was flat and predictable. A few tokens were thrown in to appease Oz fans, such as cowardly lions, scarecrows and the woman the wizard (or magician) loves from Kansas was supposed to marry someone named John Gale. Were we to believe they’d turn out to be Dorothy’s parents? Sadly, it lacked imagination, something the original, and the stories by Frank L. Baum had in large quantity.
In a small tribute to the original, the movie begins in Kansas in black and white, and isn’t seen in color until the characters are in Oz. I didn’t care for James Franco in this role, or his weak portrayal of the wizard. Weak script and character aside, the better acting (and roles) belonged to the women in this film. Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz were believable and quite good as the sisters in this story, but it was Michelle Williams and her understated role as Glinda the Good Witch who stole each scene in which she appeared. Many other actresses might have turned in a hammy performance because that’s the type of role it is, but Williams was soft, serene and angelically bathed in light.
So, why mess with perfection indeed? Loving “The Wizard of Oz” as I do, I should have known better than to expect it anything else but disappointment. Aside from the “Godfather” when are prequels ever good? As far as the 3D experience, I can’t say it was worth the extra money to watch in that format. It was fun in the beginning, but it started wearing on me about a quarter way through the movie.
5. Great Movie, see it now
4. Good movie and worth the price of admission
3. It’s OK, but I’d wait for the DVD
2. Proceed with caution
1. Don’t bother