Monday, March 11, 2013

Film Review: Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

Oz the Great and Powerful is a birthday cake: it's sweet, goes down easy, and kids will love it. The writing keeps everything to a strictly PG level of plot and character development. And I don't know how they managed it, but the graphics were awful. The Oz landscape looks like an eighties diorama dreamed up by seventies cocaine addicts. In fact, now that I think about it, the poster on the left looks like it was borrowed from The Land Before Time. If only the story were as good as that of Ducky and Littlefoot's.

Oz follows magician Oscar Diggs, who ends up in Oz. He meets and charms Theodora the Good (Mila Kunis), who takes him to her sister, Evanora the Glam (Rachel Weisz). They tell him that a wicked witch, Glinda the Blonde (Michelle Williams), killed the king. They promise Oscar/Oz the throne if he but breaks Glinda's wand. Dazzled by the prospect of kingly riches, Oz embarks on a quest out of Emerald City on the yellow brick road.

The actors do their best with the material. James Franco does a good job portraying the cad with a secret heart of gold. Weisz's character inexplicably always sounds like she's on the verge of tears, but boy, does she wear the heck out of that glittering dress. Kunis' character has no personality, but fortunately Kunis has giant puppy dog eyes that hypnotize audiences into forgetting that fact. And I think Michelle Williams needed actual money, so she agreed to lend her talent to a mainstream film.

Elisabeth Rappe at Jezebel blasted Oz as a step backward for women in film because of how the three witches were written. Personally, I'm perplexed that they're so thinly drawn and seemingly dependent upon a man to provide legitimate leadership. I think this could have been a superior film if they'd only improved the writing. As it is, Oz the Great and Powerful is suitable for children, and forgettable for adults.

I hope the lesson here is clear: hire me, Disney! I can start in April.