‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ still thrills audiences
“Oz the Great and Powerful”
Directed by Sam Raimi
Starring: James Franco, Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams
Four out of five stars
It was only a matter of time before audiences returned to the magical land of Oz.
Director Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man”) has delivered a new film that is tonally similar to the original classic while managing to create an identity of its own.
“Oz the Great and Powerful” tells the story of how the wizard first came to Oz and encountered three witches who may not be exactly what they seem.
James Franco plays a Kansas magician, who is swept away in a hot air balloon and crash lands in Oz just as a conflict is coming to a head.
He meets Theodora (Mila Kunis), a naïve young witch who instantly falls for the wizard as she escorts him to the Emerald City. Upon their arrival, he encounters Evanora (Rachel Weisz), who tells him that he must kill the Wicked Witch before he is appointed ruler of Oz, as prophecy foretold.
Following the yellow brick road to complete his quest, he comes across Glinda the Good Witch (Michelle Williams), who reveals the truth about the prophecy and helps Oz become more than just a scam artist.
The film strikes a delicate balance between being respectful to the source material and the 1939 film, while updating the story and effects for a modern audience.
It appears that there have been a large number of changes to the narrative but the characters retain the same spirit and the essence of Oz is mostly intact.
There is an overreliance on computer-generated effects at times but some of it is employed in an effort to recreate a classic look and feel, from the colorless opening sequence to an Emerald City vista that looks similar to a matte painting.
It would have been easy to make this a soulless cash-in with nothing but action sequences but “Oz the Great and Powerful” is an engaging, family-friendly film that is certain to please those who want a thrilling trip over the rainbow.
Frank Miller is a Sacramento writer.