Sam Raimi directed, starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams and Zach Braff. It's the prequel to Wizard of Oz! If you've ever wondered what the origin story of the Wizard of Oz is, wonder no more, it's all here, all 130 minutes of it in glorious, eye-aching 3D, CGI, pixel-enhanced, technicolour glory!
This is a beautiful, simply beautiful film, with every scene from the early black and white Kansas shots to the genuinely staggering, full-colour vistas of Oz a delight to behold and so rich and filled with detail! Look you can count each and every brick in the yellow brick road! Look at how spectacular that Emerald City looks, gasp at the beauty of the porcelain girl, now marvel at that the moon-walking horse in the background, it appears to be gliding.
So it's sad to report that this film is
surprisngly, emotionally flat and almost entirely un-engaging.
James Franco might be the titular hero of the film but it's Mila Kunis who steals the movie competely! She is simply superb, so beautiful and the camera loves her, as do I. In fact, it's not just Kunis who is good, all the female leads are brilliant, Weisz brings a surprise malevolence to her role and Williams radiates goodness and kindess in her twin roles, although it's the
Wicked Witch of the East who steals the show, she is actually terrifying!
But it's Kunis's pain and longing we feel, not Franco's who only really becomes remotely likeable in the closing moments of the film. But then his character's character is nearly always in doubt and he constantly seems to be at odds with himself, one minute the villain, the next the hero in fact whatever fits, or suits the moment.
The film tries hard and yet fails to capture the same emotional impact of the original, except for the final scene, which mirrors the 1939 Oz film by having the Wizard bestow gifts upon his band of brothers. But at no point do you ever feel that connected to the great Oz. In fact, you can't help feeling as adrift as Oz does as he travels Oz in search of the real Oz. You never really engage with him, he starts off an odd mix of unlikeable and callous but quickly reveals a desire to be considered great, thus making him better than he thinks himself to be right off the bat.
It's also strange that the film manages to completely avoid any semblance of a plot for well over half its running time.
Still, it's a visual treat, no one gets killed, it's got some lovely Raimi touches and it's only a PG so you can take your kids and for once the Trailer didn't ruin the experience.