Oz: The Great and Powerful [IMAX] [3D]

A fun and moderately entertaining family-fare that unfortunately is neither great, nor as powerful as the 1939 Judy Garland classic. One of the greatest problem with it is not that Garland's tale is a tough act to follow, but for this generation, Gregory Maguire's wickedly brilliant and smart satire "Wicked" (and to a lesser extent, its sequels) as well as the inanely dumb-downed Broadway fare "Wicked" are already so well ingrained into the consciousness of many of the target audience Disney is aiming at. This result in a very strong discordance between the audience and what is happening on screen. But more importantly, the writers themselves, Mitchell Kapner and Pulitzer prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire,  are also conflicted in their characterisation of the cast and the world they created which had both shadows of Baum's and Maguire's works intermingling with some originality. Come on, have some guts to do something wholly original! Sam Raimi is a visionary director and by filming the movie in 3D, the audience is brought into a wonderfully marvelous landscape. And dumped there. After a brilliant opening credits, a very strong prologue, and an exciting entry into the land of Oz, we are left with a couple of boring set pieces. That being said, 3D was used rather effectively here, but, this is where some controversy may arise, if Raimi had adopted "The Hobbit"'s HFR the scanning shots, and the large scale attack shots, would have been really breathtaking! Especially when viewed on IMAX. The plot had a good first act, a mediocre second act that tried too hard to be too many things and squeezed in too many winks-winks to the original, and lastly a third act that although predictable was fun to watch. James Franco and Rachel Weisz turned in the best performances of the main cast. Franco is a talented actor who when given the right vehicle can absolutely shine (see "127 Hours"), and here his comic timings are impecable, as are his reaction shots and facial expressions. He sure knows how to ham it up! But yet, he injects his wizard with a certain debonair, rouge sensitivity, that is touching. Of the three witches, Weisz embraces her role with the most camp and glee and is such a scene stealer! She understands her character and the undeniably campiness of her role in this production, and with that she just deliciously dials it up. Michelle Williams, on the other hand, seemed to be clearly influenced by the ditzy, bimbotic, Glinda nee Galinda from the Broadway musical, but yet, Williams being such a talented actress that she is, cannot seem to fully embrace that legally blond aspect and portrayed Glinda rather conflictingly, and consequently annoyingly. Just because you are ditzy does not mean you cannot be brave and courageous (see "Legally Blond"). Do not rein the camp in when the role ask for it. Williams also cannot really act opposite CGI, and that is something which Franco was brilliant in. Lastly, Mila Kunis seemed to be having a blast as Theodora, however her character was written too broadly and one-dimensional for us to care much. Her arc just seemed so shoehorned. Even that coda was a let down. She could be capable of so much more (see "Black Swan"). The score is typical of Danny Elfman. A mix of whimsical, fantastical epic adventure with a pinch of chorus and darkness. Even his Munchkin song sounds like his Oompa-Loompa songs. 3D would be fun, but IMAX is not necessary.


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