Thursday, March 14, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful

Release Date: Mar 08, 2013 RealD 3D 
Runtime: 2 hr. 10 min. 
Director: Sam Raimi 
Cast: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff.

Con man and monkey and witches, oh my! In Sam Raimi's colorful re-envisioning of a childhood classic, we return to the wondrous Land of Oz and its curious inhabitants. Set before the time of Dorothy and her beloved Toto, "Oz" tells the story of the prophesied wizard and his battle against the Wicked Witch of the West. Starring James Franco in the role of the titular Oz, we learn of his early beginnings as a showy con artist and magician, and how he came to be the ruler of the Emerald City. Franco, fortuitously, seems to be the right choice for this role, as his intelligence and laid back attitude go hand in hand to project a likable character. Opposite his leading ladies he balances their persona with confidant airiness, whether it's the malevolent Rachel Weisz or effervescent Michelle Williams. Mila Kunis, on the other hand, seems misfit for her role, perhaps too young and less punchy than one would hope. It's the two animated characters, Finley and China Girl, who provide a sense of magical humor, a component that's necessary to inhabit a world that's overly embellished with special effects. Vibrant and cartoonish, the film is a stark contrast to the 1939 picture when technology was more modest and not nearly as advanced. But fans of the original can rest assure. Raimi gives plenty of nods to the timeless classic through referential imagery, nostalgia playing the key role here of mediator. If anything, "Oz The Great and Powerful" is more of a solo adventure all on its own, tantalizing for the kids and entertaining for the adults. With the start of "Alice in Wonderland" and last year's "Snow White and the Huntsman," the trend of retold fairy tales will go far beyond the yellow brick road. Rumor has it, "Beauty and the Beast" may take the leap next.

Rating: 3½ stars