Oz: The Great and Powerful Review
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December 18th, 2013
When I first heard that Disney was doing a prequel to the Wizard of Oz, I was kind of annoyed. Then I remembered that they did a pretty decent job making a sequel to it, 25 years earlier. My hopes got even higher when I heard that James Franco would star in it. To me, he was such an interesting choice to play the wizard. Franco is a very versatile actor, but he's known more for action and comedy, not family films, but he brings a very interesting dynamic to the movie. Much like the Wizard of Oz and Return To Oz, this film is taken directly from the original Oz stories of L. Frank Baum. Once again, instead of just adapting a book, the screen writers picked and chose from several stories to create this one, and if I may say so, they did a very good job. Of course there is a bunch of Disneyizing to it, as seen with the spunky china girl and the talking monkey, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Franco is terrific and really carries the story. He combines his charms and looks with goofiness and ingenuity to make his character come alive in a way that L. Frank Baum would have loved. He's paired with Mila Kunis who is also really good and used to playing unlikable characters...Shut up Meg! What I especially liked about this film is how they played off the original. Starting in black & white, in an old box format, before opening up to the tradition high def. widescreen view was ingenious. I also loved how people from the black & white story had roles in Oz, just like the original. What was strange though is that they made Oz out to be a real place and discounted the whole dream aspect of the stories. In all of Baum's writings it was never known for a certainty weather or not Oz was a real place. The fact of the matter is that nothing in this genre will ever be as good as the original Wizard of Oz, but The Great & Powerful answers a lot of questions, is taken directly from the writings of the original author, has a great cast, and really does an impressive job of connecting to a film that was made 75 years earlier.