Disney’s track record as of late with adapting pre-existing stories into big-budget live-action film productions has been spotty at best. While there are some out there like myself that have enjoyed their recent forays such as 2010’s ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’ and ‘Tron: Legacy’ and 2012’s ‘John Carter’, many have not enjoyed them, and while 2010’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ has set all kinds of box-office records, it has not moved into the area of must-see long-term film that many Disney animated films have.
With that being said, we come to this years first foray into big-budget, possible franchise starter attempt for Disney in ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’. An attempt to tell the origins of the Wizard of Oz character, Disney brought in Sam Raimi to direct and eventually turned to James Franco as the lead character after trying unsuccessfully to bring in more well-known actors.
Raimi and Franco of course have previously worked together with the original ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy, and I found that Franco’s Harry Osborn in those films were lacking and we get more of the same here as well.
As a whole, I found that the acting from the main four actors, Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz, was lacking, and I was particularly let down by Kunis whom I felt could have had a possible career defining role in this film, but that never came forward.
Probably the best character in this film is Finley the flying monkey. A CGI character voiced by Zach Braff, Finley steals most of the scenes that he is in. I firmly believe that Finley is best looking overall CGI character we have had since we got our first full look at Gollum in ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ back in 2002.
Visually I would say that ‘Oz’ is the best looking film so far in 2013, with rich colours and vibrant backdrops thoughout the film. Even the darker scenes managed to visually pop off the screen and bring more life to the film.
There are also enough tips of the hat and homages to the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to tie it all together, even though Disney were not allowed to directly show the tie-ins due to rights issues, like having to use a different shade of green for the Wicked Witch of the West than in the original film.
‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’ is a great tie-in to ‘The Wizard of Oz’ but is yet another tie-in prequel that lost some of its magic due to the digital nature of film today compared to the original, much like what happened with the prequel trilogy for ‘Star Wars’.
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