Oz The Great and Powerful

March 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Posted in 2013 | Leave a comment
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Critics have skewered this film in relation to “The Wizard of Oz” but I must admit to not being a particular fan of that film either.  As most folks know, musicals are not well-beloved by me and I am also not much of a fan of Hollywood dramas of the Thirties; I find them to be saccharin and manipulative  (see “Gone With The Wind” or “Mr Smith Goes to Washington,” as opposed to the brilliant German film of the era, “M”).  So, how to judge this film?  Well, it is not cloying or saccharin.  However, it is a modern Hollywood film, which is to say it plays by it’s own cynical formula; it is all surfaces and no depth.  The audience is treated to a constant barrage of fantastical images in colors so bright is puts Technicolor to shame.  3D (which is, of course, the new Technicolor) is as big a gimmick as color was in the first Oz film.  All sorts of things leap and pop, solely for the purpose of doing so.  In the place of actual character depth and emotions, we are given cuteness, in the form of a China doll and a talking monkey.  Yes, they are cute in the way that only small children and animals can be.  But, as with the rest of the film, there is nothing below that cuteness and, in the end, it only serves to highlight the emotional falseness of the film as a whole.  No real acting is required and none given.  James Franco is perhaps one of the most over-worked (actor, writer, director, poet, teacher) and over-rated (“Spider-Man?” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes?”  Did he really have to do that much acting in “127 Hours?”) actors working today and he is in fine form here, so overplaying the grinning charlatan as to  add new meaning to “laughing at him.”   Even in green make-up, prosthetics and maniacal cackling, Mila Kunis’s voice is so hers that it was impossible not to hear Jacky from “That 70s Show.”  Perhaps, worst of all, I cannot even recommend the special effects of a movie built on them.  We have seen everything here before and, in some cases, done much better.  This isn’t the Thirties, so this film doesn’t end with any moral lessons about courage and love, thank god.  Instead, it ends as all of these movies do, with a jaundiced eye open toward sequels and tie-ins.  Which is worse?  I honestly don’t know.


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