Cast: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis
Director: Sam Raimi
The Wizard of Oz is a classic, and frankly, is placed into so much watch lists. I do admit, it is certainly a must watch. It’s not insane to try to reboot the movie by showing a prequel, and hopefully if all things work out, would probably receive a remake of the original film. While Oz achieves the prequel to give light to the origins of the great wizard and the wizard of the west, it does not do it in the same light as the original film.
Oz is a struggling magician, in a time where magic is revered by non-believers as a trick and not for entertainment. Oz is also a womanizer who lures unsuspecting women into his arms. When one of his conquests gone wrong, he was whisked away to the land of Oz, similarly to how Dorothy was whisked away. There he meets three witches, sisters Theodora and Evanora, and Glinda, the supposed evil witch. Soon enough, real identities are revealed and battle between good and evil begins.
I think Oz can be seen as a creative headache. For one, there are too many factors involved into making the movie. The visuals are great, as expected but the lines were poorly written. While Oz doesn’t establish a time frame, it comes off as putting two time frames in one screen. There’s Oz dressed in what can be perceived to be in the early 1900’s, but the way they were mouthing off their lines, it seemed that it was set in the present time. Same goes for the costumes of the characters. There’s Mila Kunis trying to look like a modern girl, but Williams and Weisz stuck to the whimsy, fantasy costumes which threw off a vibe for me. I give this a 3D credit though, with all the visuals going at your face, it does give wonder.
The biggest miscast for me would have to be Mila Kunis as a naive innocent girl who falls for Oz’s manipulative ways. Mila Kunis always exuded a strong girl vibe, and clearly she has grown up from her Jackie Hartgrove (who I think she tried to channel in, considering Theodora pre-evil and Jackie have similar characteristics) phase. I would have preferred that the role went to someone who had a soft look, as her transformation to someone so vile would have been more powerful. Don’t get me wrong, Kunis is a great actress but the role wasn’t for her.
The best casting decision they made would have to be Rachel Weisz as Evanora. Rachel Weisz always seemed to play more good-girl roles, and this is one role where she had to be good and bad at the same time. While her performance is not as powerful as Charlize Theron (Snow White and the Huntsman), Weisz hits a note that makes her an excellent choice to be cast as the evil witch. Michelle Williams also makes a pretty good Glinda, but her chemistry with Franco was off. Her character seems to be over the place. I think she was written with the eventual end that she is to trust Oz, but there were parts that were completely out of her character. Franco embodied what Oz should have been: a self-centered man who only looked out for himself. However, as there had to be some change in him (in order for him to save Oz), it wasn't evident; he was as he was from the beginning to the end. A great addition to the cast were Finley and China girl voiced by Zach Braff and Joey King respectively.
My cousins and I (we’re all movie buffs) were discussing this over dinner one evening, and one of them concluded that this was a movie designed specifically to make money. While I am no fan of the sloppy script and how some things unfolded, one thing is for certain: this is made to entertain, not to win anything. A star-studded cast is an added bonus for anyone watching anything because of the actors. For those who want to bring their kids to a part of their childhood, this is a good place to start. Maybe when you stir up their interest, they’d want to see the original film (although that’s where you should start).