“I knew you had it in you.”
“No, better: Goodness.”
– Glinda and the Wizard of Oz
Seriously, I’m going to change this category from “Movie Reviews” to “Late Movie Reviews.” I don’t think I’ve blogged about a single film within the month it’s come out since October. I’m going to give up on apologizing for that and just make it my new signature.
So then! This movie. I saw it recently and was pleasantly surprised. And not just because both of the Tripplehorns from Date Night played the main roles.
The premise: A Wizard of Oz prequel! I’m surprised no one thought of this sooner (excluding “Wicked,” which is a very good musical but was never adapted for film). This film follows Oscar, a magician from Kansas whose balloon is swept up and dropped in the land of Oz. The people of Oz have been waiting for a great wizard to free them from the Wicked Witch, and they believe he’s arrived.
(I should note that from here there are spoilers.)
What I liked: the storyline. This is one of those things that’s really easy to butcher, but not so in this case. I loved how the production team took the characters from Oz—mainly the three witches—and created an elaborate backstory for them. Theodora is an innocent witch who meets the Wizard, and after they fall in love, her sister Evanora (which, in case you’re wondering, is the one who gets the house dropped on her) manipulates the relationship. As the Wizard is off drawing up a battle plan with Glinda, Evanora reveals herself to be the Wicked Witch and rallies her army. At the same time, she convinces Theodora that her love with the Wizard was a lie, and Theodora’s rage twists her into the Wicked Witch of the West. Together, the two sisters go to attack Glinda and the Wizard.
I loved all of that. It had a very Alice in Wonderland feel to it, which makes sense, because this film is from the same production team.
I also liked the little touches like Theodora’s tears leaving scars on her cheeks, as an allusion to water killing her. By the same token, I enjoyed how the film started in black and white and the color kicked in once Oscar arrived in Oz.
And finally, I enjoyed the acting. James Franco was his usual awesome self, Mila Kunis solidified her platform as someone who can act outside of voicing Meg in Family Guy, and the actresses who played Glinda and Evanora were restrained yet charming in their opposing roles.
As I said, this is the kind of movie where it’s really easy to take a good concept and screw it up. The production team didn’t do that at all. They highlighted all the right things, like the effects or fantasy feel to it, while reinventing the best parts of Oz. The dialogue only slipped into cliché a few times, and overall it was a fun fantasy ride.
My only complaint: it takes way too long to get into Oz. The film’s two hour length could be trimmed down by a bit if only it hadn’t taken half an hour to get to the good part.
In conclusion: this is a movie that lives up to the expectations and ends up being fun while doing so. Nothing to freak out over, but still worth seeing.
Rate: 7 out of 10.