I was prepared to view this movie on its own merits, as I have no strong attachment to the wonderful wizard of oz franchise. Indeed, my main interest was the intriguing cast of actors, all under the helm of director Sam Raimi.
Oz The Great And Powerful, presented as a prequel to the events of the famous 1939 Wizard Of Oz film, is a precise, patient and measured tale of how Oz, the man, came to be great wizard in the land sharing his name.
James Franco portrays the young Oz, and a lot of appeal of this movie does depend on the viewer’s likeability of his performance. I believe this was great casting, for a character that contains many flaws and is constantly balancing upon his own morality.
The three witches of the story have much contrast. Michelle Williams is superb as the good witch, while Rachel Weisz takes an unusual turn at pure wickedness. Mila Kunis sits somewhere between; a witch conflicted between her own blind desires and broken heart.
Zach Braff voices Oz’s loyal companion helper monkey, but I never really felt his performance correctly connected to the visuals. However, young Joey King is brilliant as the porcelain doll, emoting wonderfully as a character that had no expectations for expressions and emotion.
It did take some time to get emotionally connected to the characters of this movie. I felt the first third of the film quite to be clinical and sterile, perhaps because Raimi was trying too hard to homage, reference and hint at the bigger story to come. Indeed, the hardest part of any sequel is to surprise when you already know where the journey will end.
The final third of the movie is superb, as all the pieces come together and the story finally makes an emotional connection. Overall, it’s a beautiful presented film, visually exciting and with its’ heart in the right place.
score: 8 out of 10.