Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis
Plot: Oscar Diggs is a carnival magician and a skilled conman hoping to make it big someday. A tornado sends him far away into the land of Oz, where he is mistaken to be a great wizard prophesied to defeat the wicked witch and bring peace to the land.
Review: This film is basically a prequel to The Wizard Of Oz, where Dorothy and her three friends go on an adventure to meet the great wizard himself. Here we discover how Oz, or Oscar became the wizard, or at least one that fools everyone into thinking he's an actual wizard.
From a visual standpoint, Sam Raimi hits most of the right notes. When Oscar arrives at Oz, the film moves from its initial black and white presentation to an astoundingly vibrant and colourful view that would most certainly look awesome in 3D. While it looks fantastic, there were many times when it was obvious they were using a green screen, and some of the shots looked so high def I thought I was looking at a screensaver. But I gotta say I'm impressed.
However, the film isn't strong on substance and the performances are mostly weak. The story on a whole feels right at home for a kid (even though there was a restless kid in my cinema hall whose parents had to take outside), but for adults there really isn't much, aside for some well timed comedy, and even then it caters mostly to the younger generation. Raimi wasted some really good chances to expand on some drama between the leads (I'd give details but I don't want to spoil it) or explore some backgrounds, but maybe he's saving it for the sequel. Personally I think he should have done it right here.
The lead actors perform mostly at average level, it's obvious they've done better elsewhere. James Franco is alright as the conman Oscar, but isn't very good at making himself a likable hero. At times he tries too hard to sound like he means what he says, and it shows. Mila Kunis looks good as always, but isn't given much to do overall, and actually looks awkward as Theodora in the first half. Rachel Weisz is the same as Evanora: awkward. She's supposed to be wicked but isn't very convincing. Michelle Williams succeeds the most in making the best out of her character as Glinda the Good, but even she looks like she doesn't have faith in her lines at times. I felt like the script was so corny that the four of them were trying not to burst out laughing acting them out. Strangely it's the animated sidekicks that leave a lasting impression. The flying monkey Finley and the porcelain China Girl are awesome whenever they appear. The animation for China Girl is impressive, her facial expressions are so real.
But that's not to say Oz The Great And Powerful is a bad movie. It's generally fun and very family friendly. I just wish there was more to it than that. (3/5)