VOD film review: Oz the Great and Powerful
Dedication to original Oz works9
Chris Bryant | On 03, Jul 2013
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: James Franco, Rachel Weisz
Watch Oz the Great and Powerful online in the UK: Apple TV (iTunes) / TalkTalk TV / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
An introduction to how exactly a bit of smoke and a projector became a wizard worthy of the suffix ‘Great and Powerful’, Sam Raimi’s Oz follows a lowly, cheap magician (James Franco), who abuses his charm and charisma to keep his paying audience returning.
When displaced to a land of true magic and, more importantly, of true believers, he must continue the pretence of his greatness and power in order to live like a king. He also has to convince three genuinely magical witches, not to mention a clockwork monkey (Zach Braff) and a bereaved porcelain doll, for whom, after a few dangerous encounters, he actually starts to care.
With his false bravado, animated gestures and more than a way with words, Franco is perfect for the role. His Oz is both detestable (or at least questionable) in his lies and greed, but somehow remains a lovely, charming fool. Will he learn the error of his ways and realise that being a wizard isn’t as easy as it seems?
The lesson is unsurprising, but Raimi and his team provide the wonder in a fashion worthy of Frank L. Baum’s Oz (to which there are more than numerous references). The opening is in black-and-white, an unquestionably brave homage that makes everything that follows so bright, loveable and downright hopeful that anyone not lost in its child-friendly beauty needs a journey to the Emerald City themselves in search of a heart.
The supporting cast make up the majority of the plot – three witches squabbling over the intentions of their newfound hero, in turn uncertain, admiring and, in one case, loving. All three deliver able performances, with Mila Kunis falling the hardest for the dashing young swindler and discovering the full extent of her powers. The plot twists into an impressive ending jam-packed with respect for the original Oz and no lack of originality.
A quintessential kids film, this new Oz adventure is one that little munchkins should grow up on, not just enjoy. Colourful, honest and with a hero torn enough to be liked by the parents, it follows Oz along every step of the yellow brick road; from the giggles of cheap tricks to becoming a true believer in his magic. Great and Powerful, indeed.