Oz the Great and Powerful: a film review by a guest writer

Oz the Great and Powerful

By: Erik Anthony Bendoyro

Oz, a conceited and selfish man, running from the consequences of his bad decisions, gets caught up in a tornado which transports him to the magical world of Oz. Once there, he meets three witches who are also sisters and, two against one, at war with one another. Oz has to figure out the good from the bad with the aid of his humorous monkey sidekick.

There’s really only one word to surmise this film: Mediocre.

Disney has definitely invested much into this reboot which can be seen in the film’s massive budget, amazing (yet underperforming) cast and their very aggressive advertising scheme (Seriously, if I get one more popup with an Oz or Wicked pun…). The scope of the film is actually somewhat impressive, yet sadly it’s so overtly displayed that it often distracts from the film itself. I get that it’s a far off magical place, but allow me to want to be their; tell me who is there and the need for my interest to be in this place. An argument can be said that this issue lies with the cast, comprised primarily of Oscar nominated or Oscar winning performers. Even the typically amazing Rachel Weisz couldn’t manage to elevate her two dimensional character to anything beyond stale cliché. Though try Weisz did and I will give her some credit because at least it was at best entertaining when she was in a scene. In the end though, the most enjoyable role is given by the vastly underused Zach Braff.  Braff’s Finley was the freshest character in the bunch. Bordering on “cliché comedic sidekick” Braff made you love a character, while not talking down to the audience. Many times sidekicks in family films are lovable dolts that deliver the most predictable lines and overused jokes. Here though, Braff seems to have been allowed to improve a bit which brings a nice air of creative fun to the film.

The real issue with ‘Oz’ is director Sam Raimi. The film suffers from his (as of late) unfocused campy nature (i.e. ‘Spider-Man 2’ and ‘Spider-Man 3’). Ironically, you think a filmmaker who understands (and at times defines) “B Movies” would best be able to take on a return to and an update of a story dripping in over-the-top family fair. The potential was there. Yet, halfway though I was so bored and was wondering how much more I had to sit though. It’s frustrating because Raimi can and has made strong films that are either Hollywood fanfare (‘Spider-Man’) or introspective commentaries on the human nature (‘A Simple Plan’). Maybe Disney wanted to make sure they wanted a great follow-up to their former spring fantasy blockbuster: Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Or maybe Raimi was trying something new. Regardless, ‘Oz’ has so far met the initial desires of Disney by bringing in a huge return opening weekend ($80.3 million). So for better or for worse, we will be seeing much more of Oz in the years to come.

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Many thanks to Phoenix Tree visitor scribe, Erik Bendoyro, for once more making a contribution to this outlet of awesomeness! :)

with passion & gratitude — jennifer

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