Sunday, March 10, 2013

Thoughts: Oz The Great and Powerful

Thursday night, I had the pleasure of attending preview night for “Oz The Great and Powerful”!

I have been excited for this movie since I first heard about it, but initially fearful it may turn into another awful rework of a great film.  I am talking to you Tim Burton and your hideous Alice in Wonderland rework that I will not watch.  Maybe one day I will be bored enough to give it a chance, but as of now I know enough to steer clear of it.

Back to Oz, the beauty of preview night was that tickets were only available at the box office and it didn’t appear to be highly publicized.  The additional bonus was the snow outside.  Thursday had been a rainy day which turned into snow Thursday evening and then it kept on snowing until Friday evening.  The snow kept movie goers away.  So we had a practically empty theater for the first 3D showing of Oz!  I don’t mind crowds but you’re bound to get loud people in a packed theater.  That’s never fun.

Now I like Oz related anything pretty much so I am biased.  I loved Oz The Great and Powerful.  I think it was pretty fabulous on many points.  One of the things I really loved about the story was how it followed the same path as The Wizard of Oz.  However, it makes for a less original story but I think it worked for Oz, because it gave me a familiar yet different feeling.  It was like stepping back into childhood and finding it altered.

I loved the opening credits and they were really cool in 3D.  They were carnival inspired and consisted of cardboard cut outs that popped off the screen.  I could have watched that alone and been satisfied with the whole movie.

Like The Wizard of Oz, the movie opens in black and white.  At one point Oz is speaking with Annie (also played by Michelle Williams) and from what I remember they discuss her engagement to a Mr. Gale.  Clearly, Annie is Dorothy’s mother and she is even in a pretty gingham dress.  In Baum’s books there is no mention of Dorothy’s parents except for the fact that her mother was dead.  So Annie was certainly an easy addition to the film and I think a great way to tie this movie back to the original film.  It also gives the viewers a good time reference.

Oz also follows the yellow brick road but it is not so obvious.  It’s there, but they don’t make a big deal about it.  When the Wicked Witch of the West first appears she cannon balls into Gillikin (or Quadling) Country much like she does in the original film.  I am a tad confused if it is Gillikin or Quadling.  I believe I remember the Gillikins being mentioned in the film and not the Quadlings.  The Quadlings would be more accurate since Glinda is the ruler of the South in the books, Quadling County, but in The Wizard of Oz they made her the ruler of the North Gillikin Country.  Quite confusing.

Side note: There are four witches in the land of Oz: North, South, East and West.  North and South are good witches, East and West are wicked witches.  For some reason the Locasta seems to always be looked over in films and even in Wicked.  Oh well.

Also like The Wizard of Oz, Oz travels the Yellow Brick road with companions (ones he doesn’t exactly want but they stick to him anyway).  It’s interesting how the original film Dorothy was an arrogant teenager and in this film Oz is an arrogant man, but they have different reactions to companions on their journey.  Well how do you like them apples?  Also at the end of the film, Oz gives out gifts to his companions just as he gave Dorothy and her friends.

My favorite character in the movie was Finely.  That cute bell hop monkey won my heart with his devotion and incredible faces.  The animators paid attention to detail for sure.  One cannot not love China Doll.  She is cute as a button and feisty.

I liked how they played the power card with the witches.  I liked that Glinda was young and not quite so powerful (seemed the only thing she could do was create fog and float in a bubble), while Evanora (Wicked Witch of the East) was more powerful then Glinda and Theodora (also young).

What I didn’t like was that Glinda’s father had been the king who Evanora poisoned.  Glinda was never a Princess of Oz; Ozma is the Princess of Oz.  I wasn’t too keen on that factor.

I hate to say it, but this is the first film I didn’t care for Mila Kunis in.  She was wonderful as Theodora, but when Theodora turns into the Wicked Witch she loses her ability to become the character.  I was not fan of the amount of prosthetics on her and the glossing of her in after production.  They could have easily painted Mila green and left the prosthetics out.  It seemed to me as if they tried to make the prosthetics pretty and if that’s the case they why add them in the first place?  I think they may have removed her ability to show expressions.  I don't think it would have been a far fetched idea to have her young, wicked and still retaining beauty since she had just embraced being wicked.  She is clearly not well suited to play the evil dramatic role, but in a way it works since she is newly wicked and young.

I like that Glinda has a kinship with Theodora in a way.  It reminded me of Wicked when she told Theodora that she can find goodness again.

Something I noticed, in the film both Glinda and Theodora have at least THREE costumes, yet Evanora appears to have one or do all her costumes look exactly alike?

I really enjoyed the film.  One thing to keep in mind though it that this film is rated PG and it is meant for children, so yes it could have had more explosions and the like, but above all it’s a children’s film.

Gosh I want to put the original on right now!