April 4, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff

Let me start by saying that I feel sorry for this movie. No matter how amazing it could have been, it would never live up to The Wizard of Oz, which is named the 6th best movie EVER by The American Film Institute. But that being said, it's not an amazing movie, which made it all the more difficult to watch and critique. 

Part of my negativity is not the movie's fault. It's Delta's fault. That's right - Delta Airlines. Why, you ask? Any reader of this blog understand how much I appreciate (and often need) a surprise element or at least an attempt at a surprising plot twist to keep things fresh and interesting. So imagine my disappointment when the Delta Sky Magazine on a recent flight totally and completely gave away the one surprise in the movie! I mean, really, Delta? Did you feel like your customer service and company as a whole weren't crappy enough that you had to go and ruin this movie for me? Maybe it was because I flew using frequent flier miles and therefore was less disappointed than usual in the cost/benefit of flying said airline that it felt the need to do this...

But despite the ruin of the one interesting plot point, there was another large problem I had with the movie - its CGI. CGI is, of course, a double-edged sword. Too little invested in it and your movie ends up looking cheap; too much and you end up with Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. For me, CGI needs to commit to either being completely realistic or completely cartoonish-looking. I couldn't stop raving about the scenery in Life of Pi because although it was completely obvious and fake-ish looking, the entire movie was done in that manner and therefore it worked. People loved Avatar (unfortunately) for the same reason - the CGI was so realistic that they felt transported into a magical world. Oz tries to pull off both, which is where it goes wrong. You can't make a realistic looking landscape in the background and then have cartoonish flowers in the foreground, or whatever. I understand this is a fantasy movie, but if you're going to make it bright and kid-friendly, take a cue from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and really go for it. Don't hedge your bets and try play cute while taking yourself seriously.

And a small, but annoyingly obvious aspect of the movie? The "special effects" added solely for the 3D showing. I get that movie studios get to charge higher prices for 3D tickets, but I can't think of a single movie that needs to be shot and/or seen in 3D. (Don't even get me started on the re-releases of old movies in 3D, despite having no special effects that would be enhanced by the technology.) So watching the movie and having things suddenly pop out at you is entertaining because you know that was inserted just to make an extra $3/ticket. And that people pay for it.

Those glaring problems aside, the plot is enjoyable. It is, after all, still based on the L. Frank Baum book. I'm not overly crazy about James Franco, but he plays a really good con man. And the brief interactions between him and Zach Braff (who is a monkey half the time) are, I think, the best part of the movie. As for the women: Michelle Williams looks like she's wearing an ill-fitting wig the whole time, Mila Kunis looks oddly plump for a portion of the movie, and Rachel Weisz somehow ends up doing the best job of the three. Go figure.

Final word: Not worth $12. I can't believe people paid extra to watch it in 3D or IMAX.


  1. It seems as if you pulled the thoughts right out of my brain. I said to Steph that I wish they would've used the old latex and makeup work for Mila Kunis. That was the WORST part of the visual effects, or special effects, as you mistakenly call them.

    I also thought that they needed to implement a little bit of the musical element from W.O.O. Like the witches theme music, or a catchy munchkin song. So lame.

    Overall, I did enjoy myself but the 3-d was NOT worth it.

    1. If only I had read this before posting...


    2. Good link. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

    3. I was only being half serious. The language in that article really didn't help, but I think I got it now. If not, I'm sure you'll point it out to me next time I mix them up. =)