I suspect most of you have seen The Wizard of Oz (1939) at least once in your life – and delighted in it’s characters’ journey to find their heart’s desire via the help of a great wizard:
We’re off to see the wizard
The wonderful Wizard of Oz
We hear he is a whiz of a Wiz
If ever a Wiz there was!
Ah, but how did the Wizard ever get to Oz? And how did he become such a great wizard? These questions – and a whole lot more – get answered in the delightful Oz the Great and Powerful (2013). This movie has several things going for it:
- It was directed by Sam Raimi.
- It has a cameo by Bruce Campbell.
- It gives a strong-but-updated nod to the 1939 classic.
- It does not try to remake the 1939 classic, yet keeps a lot of the spirit alive.
Oscar Diggs [James Franco] is a fairly unsuccessful carnival magician who ends up fleeing for his life after the carnival strong-man gets wind that Oscar has been making advances toward his girl. Oscar jumps into a hot-air balloon and narrowly makes his escape – only to find he’s headed straight for a developing tornado. Apparently tornadoes in Kansas have a fixed route as it carries Oscar (as it did Dorothy and Toto some years later) to the Land of Oz – where he’s met by Theodora [Mila Kunis], a witch who believes him to be the great Wizard that’s been foretold to arrive and free the people of Oz from their oppression.
Being in a bizarre new land (as well as being a carny) convinces Oscar to “be” the Wizard, Oz, that Theodora spoke of. He doesn’t appear to have much to lose. As he goes along, Oscar encounters many people, places, and things that serve to remind him more and more that he’s not in Kansas anymore. However, one of the people he encounters reminds him not only of home, but also of his own heart’s desire – which is not be a good man, but a great man.
I thought this movie was a ton o’ fun. It captured much of the spirit of the 1939 classic but brought it, via some outstanding 3D computer graphics, into the 21st century. In fact, I got the impression that the people in this film really enjoyed that movie.
Also, I think you can feel secure in bringing the little ones. While the movie is rated PG (and deservedly so) I didn’t think it was as intense as the 1939 film. In fact, that film’s Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West still totally creeps me out; in my mind she’ll always be the very picture of evil.
And that goes for her little monkeys, too!