Monday, March 11, 2013

Oz: The Great and Powerful

Companions; Finely and China Girl
Oz: The Great and Powerful is a fantasy adventure film about a con man magician who finds his destiny as the savior of the land of Oz. The film is both a dazzling spectacle, and a well made film with great attention to detail and some truly great performances. No many family films are made, that everyone can enjoy, that aren't made by Pixar, and this is a very rare exception. To be fair, it is very formulaic, but given that it is a PG rated Hollywood blockbuster, that is almost a given. It never broke any new ground, but it didn't have to. In many ways, it was what Avatar should have been; a 3D blockbuster experience, with eye popping visuals, that is fun for the whole family. It never tried to force feed me any messages, not that it lacked themes. It had a recurring theme of goodness, but it wasn't preaching it. Now the film, like I said, is formulaic, meaning that it is about a guy who is a regular Joe who wants to be something better than he is. He gets caught in a tornado after he flees, from a man that he had an altercation with, in his hot air balloon. When he gets to Oz he meets some friends, and foes, and his destiny is revealed to him, although he is skeptical. All the inhabitants of Oz think he is a great and powerful wizard, and at first he uses it to sleaze his way into the throne of the Emerald City, but then he learns he has to kill a witch to gain the throne. This is where his arc begins. He learns that he actually has to be a savior and not a selfish dick. What makes this film so great is all the little things. Stuff is set up in the beginning and it pays off in the end, he idolizes Thomas Edison and models tricks after him, so he doesn't use magic, he uses science, and all the little Wizard of Oz related nods. But the guy that really steals the show is Finley, voiced by Zack Braff. Everything he says and does is hilarious, and delivered with such perfect timing. All the characters were really likable, and I attribute that to Sam Raimi's direction. He made Ash from Army of Darkness likable (So fucking likable) and he was a complete asshole. There were a lot of Army of Darkness nods in this film and Oz himself kind of came off as Ash when he first arrived in The Land of Oz. I compare this to the lackluster Dead Man Down, everything that failed at, this succeeds. Now, just because I'm talking this up so much, doesn't mean that it is the best movie ever, it is just exactly what a Hollywood blockbuster should be. Its fun, has good performances, consistent laughs, and a beautiful world to look at. I also am a huge fan of The Wizard Of Oz and it was nice returning here and not having it be a disrespectful bastardization of the source meant to just capitalize off the name. This is as well made as Jack the Giant Slayer, except the story being told is something that we care can care about because we are constantly interested in what is going on. I strongly recommend this one, and I am already putting this on my "to buy" list. I am so glad that one of my top 10 favorite directors didn't let me down and it really relieves a burden of unease about this movie season. I can't wait until the summer starts, because if this was this good, just imagine how other blockbusters will fare.
     -L.K

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