THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ
(directed by Sam Raimi, 2013)
***+ (out of 5)
> Though clearly a commercial venture on Disney’s part, this film is successful enough to make one cheer the establishment of an ongoing franchise, and so much fun, it’s not worth dwelling on any shortcomings. There are so many vividly imaginative books by L. Frank Baum, and his daughter who succeeded him, why not mine this untapped treasure trove? Despite its tepid box office, I was a big fan of Disney’s 1985 Oz adventure RETURN TO OZ. I felt it was colorful fun, true to the spirit of the classic books. I’m glad to see them give another shot at it.
. Unlike RETURN, this WIZARD prequel hit the public nerve. No wonder! The production design is so bright and animated and colorful, my eyes smiled at every frame. It has great setpieces and character design, not one but three sexy vixens: Rachael Weicz, Mia Kunis, and a delicious Michele Williams, breathtaking in resplendent white gown. James Franco as the young Oz is a cad, a cheat, a fraud and self-aggrandizing womanizer. It’s fun watching him have to learn how to be a good man, when his ego drives him to be regarded as a “great” man. The end is clever and satisfying, as the slippery poser is forced to turn his weaknesses into strengths, using his old carnival chicanery to save the day.
. Okay, it’s not THE WIZARD OF OZ, but from the moment the brash young carny arrived in Oz, I started looking forward to the sequel.
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