If there’s one thing you should know about me it’s that I am a HUGE Wizard of Oz fan. Ever since I was little kid I’ve been a fan of the book and the many that followed. Judy Garland movie? Yes. Wicked? Read the books and seen the show three times? Tin Man? Own it. Anything having to do with Oz, Ozma, and Dorthy will be watched by me.
So when I heard about Oz: The Great and Powerful? I knew it was only a matter of time. Perhaps a little more time than I would have liked, but a matter of time. Last weekend I saw it in 3D at The Grove. Side note: The Grove is sort of like DisneyLand. Sweet Oz do I have feels on this one. Good and bad, technical and narrative.
Oz: The Great and Powerful is to the wizard as Wicked is to the Wicked Witch of the West. It creates an origin story for the Wizard and his adventure of how he first came to power. Along the way it also creates an alternative origin story for the Wicked Witch of the West and creates a background from which the original story can emerge.
The movie looked fantastic. The move from black and white to color was a lovely nod to the Judy Garland movie, and the visuals were stunning. As I mentioned I saw it in 3D, more due to time than wanting to (What can I say, I’m cheep), but I’m so glad I did. The effect was not wasted as fireworks, flying minions, and cheerful creatures jumped off the screen towards me. I did notice that some of the faster movements were a bit blurry. Perhaps the 48 fps of The Hobbit would have been beneficial here?
I appreciated the women of Oz taking a strong role in the plot, but couldn’t help but feel they could have been stronger. One of the messages that Oz stories have always taught me is that girls and women can be the driving force of their own destiny. While they have always had a galaxy of friends for support, the women of Oz never needed to be saved in the traditional sense. I didn’t see that in this story.
These women of Oz were… petty? Theodora comes in to explain how Oz is the only one who can safe the kingdom. She jumps very quickly from “let me show you how our world works” to “I’ll be your queen and live happily ever after.” Scary fast transition right there. And when he leaves her she is so easily convinced by Evanora that revenge is the best way. My dear, my dear. And this is how sisters treat each other? Not in my Oz.
Even Glinda the Good is very quick to jump on the “only a man can save us” boat. Yeah, yeah prophesy and all that, but look at the world Glinda rules. Tinkers, and Munchkins, and Farmers, that’s not so bad. Not only does she jump on the Oz-boat really fast, she also ends up with him. I – for one – am not convinced that there was enough of a change to warrant jumping into a relationship with him.
While the women of Oz were a big disappointment, the visuals and the way they used Ozian legend were two huge wins. I loved the use of Chinatown and the China Girl in the movie (though technically she should have frozen into a figurine once she left the city). They correctly reference Gillikin country, Munchkinland, and other geographical features of Oz. I wish there had been more, but I was pleased with what was.
Overall, I’d say this was an okay movie. The visuals were superb, but I was quite disappointed with the plot and the characters. I expect a lot out of Oz, and this movie didn’t deliver what I had hoped. While I will continue to look to this a way of visualizing the Land of Oz, I’m not sure how much of their explanation will make it’s way into my personal Oz cannon. I suppose only time will tell.