There seems to be a great surge of movies that focus more on visuals rather than the plot and that is unfortunate. “Oz the Great and Powerful” is one of those films. It was beautiful and probably would have been more so in 3D. The colors were as intense as computer generated graphics can get, the creatures were interesting, and the costumes and hair were delightfully wacky. All of those attributes are important, but plot trumps all.
The movie was tolerable until the scene when Oz first arrives in the Land of Oz and he and Theodora are looking around at the scary sounds coming from the evil witch’s baboons. The camera suddenly zooms very quickly and at an unnatural angle. The colors were stunning but when the camera panned they all ran together, clearly they were meant for 3D.
Oscar Diggs or “Oz” (James Franco) is just an average conman, heartbreaker, and lousy person in rural Arkansas who dreams of greatness. He is swept away by a tornado and after some obviously made for 3D effects he lands in the world of Oz (just like his nickname). There he meets the witch Theodora (Mila Kunis) and she mistakes him for the long awaited wizard that is prophesized to save them from evil and take over as king, and the temptation of power is too great for Oz to tell the truth. But before Oz can take the throne, he must defeat the evil witch. In his travels he learns that all is not what it seems and that he himself may have been conned. The whole story seemed forced with every predictable twist you could think of.
Mila Kunis did not add anything to the cast other than looking great in what appeared to be skin tight leather pants. As Theodora she plays a clueless and powerful witch that falls in love with the dashing Oz almost immediately. She was clearly not picked for her acting but for her appeal. During her particularly dramatic scenes she wears a dress that accentuates her positives and she even rips at its seams. James Franco is handsome but is somewhat lacking in the acting department as well. He is charming but not very good at delivering the really good lines, when he did have them.
If this is what we can expect from Disney’s endeavors to recreate older classics, I am very hesitant about future spinoffs extensions of beloved stories. The live action with digital effects seems to be the company’s downfall after the disaster of “John Carter.” At least “Oz the Great and Powerful” has done a bit better; maybe there is hope.
Rating: 2/5 Elephants.

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