Sam Raimi directs yet another mega-hit movie as a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz” film, in 1939. Oscar Diggs, played by James Franco, no longer feels that he is a good enough magician and so longs to be the most prominent wizard of his time. Little did he know that this dream will be realized through a series of uncanny events.
“Oz The Great and Powerful” is a vivid reminder of the enchanting visual effects seen in Alice in Wonderland.
James Franco’s performance seems maladjusted to his role as Oscar Diggs.
His attempts at humor in “Oz” are sometimes bland and not well executed.
Though the movie begins in black and white, director Sam Raimi effectively introduces a smooth transition to high-definition scenes with very rich colors.
The beginning scene, which is in black and white, is very significant as it alludes to a period in which color cinematography had not yet been invented.
Since this film is intended to be a prequel to the 1939 film, “The Wizard of Oz,” the transition from black and white to color is a fascinating blend of the old and the new.
Despite its visual enchantments, “Oz” felt unoriginal. This movie might be better suited as a remake of the 1939 “Oz” and not a prequel to it.
However, “Oz The Great and Powerful” did present our conception of magic in a different light. It incorporated the rudimentary advancements in the field of science, which was peculiar to the era in which the first movie was set.
Diggs (Franco) achieves his triumph by using an image projector, instead of real magic, which suggests science as the new kind of magic.
The first few minutes of “Oz” are in black and white and the frame is cropped as in the film’s trailer.
This may seem odd to viewers accustomed to wide screen high-definition sequences, but that’s precisely the point.
The film’s opening accomplishes two things; it hearkens to an age before film was digital or even in color; the same age the original Oz can be historically placed in. It also hints that the director is willing to take risks, even to defy the expectations of the audience.
Unfortunately, moments like these are sparse. When we receive our first glimpse of Oz, it is a visually stunning feast of lush color that deserves to be seen in 3-D.
Scenes with the film’s CG characters, a girl made of China and the monkey, Finley, are animated with an uncanny precision that lends them a human touch allowing for believable emotional poignancy.
Still, the film fails to escape the well-trodden path of stories with reluctant heroes that ultimately save the day.
Challenging some of the hallmarks of that genre might have led to a more engaging plot.
“Oz the Great and Powerful” serves as the prequel to Victor Fleming’s “The Wizard of Oz” and is directed by Sam Raimi whose Spiderman trilogy still dwarfs the franchise’s recent attempt with Andrew Garfield. Though it appears that even with a stellar cast, Raimi struggles to pull off a movie worth seeing.