For those who haven't seen Oz The Great and Powerful yet, this is a prequel to the Wizard of Oz. Though, this is pretty much Alice in Wonderland 2.0. Regardless, I still enjoyed Oz The Great and Powerful and it beats Alice in Wonderland by a whisker. It's a little odd to believe that Sam Raimi directed this. This isn't his best work but, in this awful start to the year Oz is one of the few to emerge on top.
I'm not really going to spend any more time typing up the plots of films but, it's basically a magician named Oscar Diggs (James Franco) getting blown into the land of Oz where he meets the three witches. Then, he ends up fighting for the Land of Oz after he realizes that there's more than just wanting to become rich and famous. There's more to the plot but, that's pretty much the gist of it.
I enjoyed Oz but, I had a few issues with it. It's mostly from the acting department. Some of the performances were flat and wooden. The most obvious is Mila Kunis. I guess it's no spoiler that she's the wicked witch (just look at the posters) but, she isn't wicked enough. I like Kunis but, this is her least inspired performance. The cartoonish make-up doesn't help either. Nothing against the make-up artists as everything else in nicely done, but her make-up job was just laughable to me. To make things even more awkward, she doesn’t have any chemistry with Franco at all in the beginning. I guess that has to do with Franco also being flat, though not as much as Kunis. So when she says she's in love with him it's unconvincing and out of place. The only time there's really a spark between Franco and someone else is when he's with Michelle Williams. Other than those things, everything else was just fine.
Now I know most people are going to avoid the 3-D but, I have to say I was impressed by it. There was only some noticeable blur when we first reach Oz. Other than that, the light levels seemed normal. There wasn't any dimness, everything was bright and beautiful. The picture quality was clear and the filmmakers manage to utilize the 3-D well. Things pop out of the screen but, not so much that it ends up feeling like it was just a gimmick. If you have the extra money I'd say it wouldn't hurt to invest it in the 3-D. I'm sure you'd have just as much fun in 2-D, but this is one of the rare times I can argue for 3-D.
Though I said some of the performances were flat, the rest certainly weren't. Michelle Williams gives a sweet performance as Glinda, while Rachel Weisz gives that wickedness that's needed for her character. I'm surprised that didn't carry over to Kunis since she was by Weisz's side for a good portion of the film. Zach Braff does a nice job playing Franco's assistant in the beginning and does some excellent vocal work as Finley. Same goes for Joey King, though her human role wasn't nearly as big as Braffs in the beginning. Lastly, we have Bill Cobbs who left a good impression as Master Tinker. The rest of the cast did a nice job with their limited parts.
Overall, this is a visual treat for the whole family. Sure some of the performances weren't anything spectacular and the chemistry between Franco and Kunis wasn’t there. However, everything else makes up for these things. The rest of the cast is great, the visuals are stunning, the 3-D is well utilized, and the pacing is nice. It's a 2 hour and 10 minute film yet it only felt like a half hour. With a lack of family films (both in terms of quantity and quality) thus far, Oz certainly is the one we've been waiting for.