Thursday, 28 March 2013
Oz: Great and Powerful?
But is he?
Well, yes and no...
Disney make some amazing films, that can't be denied. Unfortunately, that can also be their undoing. They coat a particular brand of gloss over their productions that is wonderful when it shines, but is disappointing when it doesn't. With Oz, the shine is definitely there, but in parts, that's the problem.
I loved the black and white introduction. The girl Oz is 'sweet' on mentions that a man who's surname is Gale has asked her to marry him. I thought that was a nice touch. An interesting link to the classic original. I wonder, however, what Disney will do if they feel obliged to produce a sequel to this prequel. Any such film must still be a prequel to the first film (which is, I suppose, now a sequel?) as it would genuinely be a bad move to actually remake the Wizard of Oz.
With a distinct lack of ideas, so many films are being remade - Total Recall, Fright Night, Evil Dead and many more - but there are those films that simply MUST be left alone. The Wizard of Oz is one such movie. Make a sequel if you will (as has been done - Oz, Return to Oz, The Wiz, The Witches of Oz (!)) but don't touch the original.
When Walt Disney was alive, I believe he refused to make a sequel. Now he's no longer with us, it seems most Disney films will have a number 2 or more at some point. In some cases, these are good. In others, not so. The Lion King is one of my favourite animated films. Up there with Finding Nemo ("just keep swimming!"). I was disappointed by the second one, but thought the third was a unique take on sequels. It worked, and was very funny.
But what will they do with Oz: The Great and Powerful? They've set the scene, leading into the original nicely. The Gale name is there, linking Dorothy and the Wizard. There's the green Wicked Witch (I thought the transformation here was a little weak, but it does have to cater for the younger audience). And the reason for the smoke and mirrors is established too. As such, there's the potential for a second film to be squeezed in, potentially just because it has the Oz name. Not necessarily a good idea.
Anywho, back to the film.
Black and white. I thought this was a fitting tribute to the first film. Plus, when Oz arrived in... erm... Oz, the contrast between the monochrome and the stunning colour was amazing. One issue with black and white films nowadays is that they look like a colour film with the colour removed. The definition is still there. It doesn't look like a traditional 'black and white' movie. A little ageing effect here would have, I think, added. Some imperfections to enhance the perfection.
Still, the transition from dirty old Kansas to beautiful Oz was seamless and Sam Raimi (who I'm a fan of anyway) has helped make the world a much bigger place than it ever was before. As Oz floats along a river to musical plants and river fairies, you're transported to a wonderful land brought to impressive life. I saw the film in 2D - which would help keep the colour vivid - but there were definitely some parts which were included for the 3D viewers. A fall down a waterfall was effective in 2D, so would have turned stomachs in 3!
There was humour mixed nicely in with the shocks and surprises. Finlay, the flying monkey, and his liking of bananas. A Chinatown made from real china pottery. The flying baboon that suddenly appeared, teeth bared (which made me wonder why more wasn't put into the transformation of Theodora - even Roald Dahl's 'The Witches' adaptation had something shown).
Sometimes the actors appeared a little uncomfortable in their roles, apart from Zach Braff who seemed perfectly at home as the monkey (lol). The 'Bully' cry of the Tinkers and the 'Not now' fanfare of Nuck felt forced, and the baboons gaining on them in the mist looked scribbled and not actually doing anything (and the fake running of Gelinda?) but these were fairly minor things in retrospect, considering .
So, Oz: The Great and Powerful. Was he?
Well... Majestic, I think so. Visually impressive, mostly, yes. A nice lead in to the original? Pretty much. It had some excellent parts, some good parts and some ok parts. It had a couple of not so good parts too.
But, did I enjoy it? Yes I did. 'Nuff said.