It’s been 28 years since Disney last followed the Yellow Brick Road – and given the critical and commercial whipping endured by 1985’s tangled, terrifying ‘Return to Oz’, you can hardly blame them for being cautious. Such is the cultural landmark status of MGM’s 1939 ‘The Wizard of Oz’ that any attempt to adjoin it on screen, however laudable, seems a fool’s errand from the get-go.
The good news, then, is that Sam Raimi’s long, lavish, somewhat lumbering prequel is a more respectful retread than we might have expected from the studio behind Tim Burton’s hideous, near sacrilegious ‘Alice in Wonderland’. From its engaging black-and-white prologue, introducing James Franco as Oscar, a shyster Kansas conjuror set for a very unexpected journey, to the widened aspect ratio and saturated Technicolor-style palette as he’s carried to Oz by a familiar-looking tornado, Raimi’s film is far more in thrall to the Hollywood classic than the more subversive ‘Return to Oz’ was.
As Oscar is mistakenly embraced by the people of Oz as their long-awaited leader, charged with settling the battle between good (as represented by Michelle Williams’s wholesome witch Glinda) and evil (vampishly wielded by Rachel Weisz’s Evanora), he’s effectively a smart-arse stand-in for Dorothy, with the film treading a story path as indebted to the original as its explicitly referential production design.
What it lacks, rather like Oscar himself, is any authentic magic: the script’s post-‘Shrek’ wisecracks feel especially out of place, and the over-processed digital landscapes can’t match the beauty of handmade Hollywood artifice. As Mariah Carey trills a syrupy R&B ballad over the closing credits, we’re still left decidedly under the rainbow.
Cast and crew
Average User Rating
2.5 / 5
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- 4 star:0
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- 1 star:0
Possibly as high as 1.5 cause of passable CGI, however overall too drawn-out cause the script is lacking, the acting somewhat unenthusiastic and it is a set-up for a sequel. Save £34- the outlandish price I paid for a couple of tickets on a Sunday night in West end.
... as far as a PG fantasy film featuring mostly human actors goes I liked it. If you've got kids in the 9-12 age bracket - if they're anything like the twelve year old boy I overheard commenting to his dad as they left - it's worth the price of admission. It was good to finally see Zac Braff in a mainstream film, and Mila Kunis is hot - green or not. Don't be put off by the review. It's basically a kids' film and from that point of view (rather than judging it on 'canon' and the films that came before) I think it works rather well.
Very poor and disappointing. The plot and characterisation is full of cliches and Franco as a lead is difficult to warm to. Kunis looks great in a pair of skin tight leather trousers but to no great surprise the American actress Williams, dressed in white, plays the heroine while the British Weisz conveniently dressed in black is the villainess. A cliche as tired and obvious as the film. Worth two stars, just.
If anything the review gives the film more credit than it deserves. This is a thoroughly disappointing film. It is like a supermodel, looks great and classy but is shallow and empty. Kunis takes over the mantle of pretty woman in unnecessarily tight leather trousers from Gemma Arterton in the recent Hansel and Gretel film. Franco as a lead is poor and difficult to warm to much like the film. Braff's flying monkey cum servant is no donkey from Shrek as a character. At my local Cineworld Disney had obviously splashed the cash from the marketing budget with yellow brick road and large displays. They probably realise it must do well this weekend if they are to get their money back. Don't bother with the 3D as apart from a few flying spears and monkeys coming out of the screen at you it isn't worth it and in places it is out of focus. Just to put the icing on the cake and to no great surprise Williams, the American Princess dressed all in white, plays the heroine to Weiss's black clad English villainess. A cliche as obvious as much of the rest of film. Just worth two stars.