Review: ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’. We liked. Mostly. [contains spoilers]
We’ve been waiting for weeks, and finally the day arrived – Oz The Great And The Powerful was released, and thanks to Cineworld we had first-day seats. Brilliant!
We took all the children – ranging from No.1 who at 14 was open-minded about the latest Disney adventure, to Pink, who at six was a little shivery after watching the mildly scary trailer, and insisted on sitting next to an available lap to climb into, just-in-case.
The film is over two hours long, and when we finally emerged blinking into the daylight, the discussion of the film and its plot carried us the full 19 miles home.
The general consensus was that we had all enjoyed the film – but the expression wasn’t an unmitigated “awesome” that we were all hoping for. none of the children clearly remembers seeing the original Wizard of Oz, so the devices which echoed it so clearly, which I truly loved, were lost on them. This did mean, though, that there was a collective and audible “Ooooh!” as we transformed from the black & white of Kansas to the full glorious colour spectrum of Oz. They LOVED that! None of them noticed we also switched from the square format to panoramic widescreen at the same time though.
Oz itself was simply stunning – quite quite beautiful, and the first film for a very long time where I actually wondered if it might not be even better in 3D. The cast of gradually-collected friends , whilst not as deliciously wonderful as the scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion were nonetheless quite lovely. The bellhop chimp (voiced unmistakeably by Billy Crystal) was very funny, the china girl had attitude enough to avoid being saccharine-sweet, and Nook was fabulously grumpy. One of No.1’s favourite characters was The Head Tinker, who had very few lines at all.
My issue came with the story line itself, which intruded into my enjoyment of the spectacle. Mila Kunis – who I had anticipated with enjoyment – seemed to have been woven unnecessarily into the film. I know there had to be two wicked witches, so that Dorothy could kill one with her house later, but it was her transformation from I-just-want-peace-and-harmony into the Most Evil Of Them All. All because she had spent one day with the non-wizard, falling in love because he asked her to dance and then being utterly heartbroken and vengeful when she realised he was a con man was just too far for me. Why this convoluted extra love angle? It was just too far-fetched – and blaming the poisoned apple as my children did felt like a cheap solution. They spent so long in making the storyline for the transformation of her character that we rarely got to see beneath the surface and understand her, which was a shame. We were all a bit baffled by the twisting of the plotline, and just went along compliantly rather than caring very deeply.
Rachel Weisz as Evanora, on the other hand, was magnificently sinister and I loved her. Glinda the Good was rather an unforgettable character – but why we met her in a dark and spooky graveyard was never really explained, either.
Oz, however, was great – I loved the fact that he was a blatant shonky carnival con man, but that we could see very quickly that he was in essence a good and kind hero beneath the shallow exterior just greedy for the gold. The use of his carnival tricks in the grand finale was perfect, and a great way to wow an audience already being dazzled by a wonderfully visual spectacle.
In the end, it was a great way to spend an afternoon, but it’s not a film that we’ll rush to watch again. And yes, the six year old did climb into my lap more than once – the PG rating is rather generous as some parts of the film really are rather scary.