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Review

Oz comes alive in whole new story

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March 14, 2013

The merry old land of Oz returns to theaters with a new adventure for all of its viewers to follow, showing the origin of the eponymous “Wizard of Oz” and showing audiences a good time to boot.

Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is a con man, an ambitious dreamer, and a man destined for greatness, but wowing the crowd with smoke and mirrors as a magician for a menial paycheck seems to be as great as he can get.

One stormy Kansas day will hurtle him across the sky, and across time, to the land of Oz. Mistaken for a great wizard by a young witch (Mila Kunis), Oscar is now thrown into the conflicts and toils that persist in the land of Oz, with everyone looking to him for guidance and answers, but this simple magician may not have all of them. With witches conspiring to take over the land and people losing hope, Oscar will need to find the greatness within and establish himself as “Oz: The Great and Powerful.”

Before this movie came out, I was pretty fascinated by what it was going to turn out as. There was the part of me that said this was going to be a great movie for expanding on the Oz universe and using it to its creative advantage.

But there was also another part that said this movie was going to blow, since I had been noticing many movies lately taking fairy tales and making them gritty without adding much else in other departments (such as “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” and “Jack the Giant Killer”). I’m glad to know my inner optimist was right this time as “Oz: The Great and Powerful” manages to pull through as a pretty entertaining movie.

The big thing this movie does right is in the visuals and world. Oz is beautifully created and inspires wonder and awe from the sprawling flowery fields and the Emerald City. The movie revels in the environments, settings and equally so in the costume department, pulling no punches in making each costume as whimsical and silly as they were in the original “Wizard of Oz.” The amount of detail is something all on its own.

The music is done equally well, with music movie veteran Danny Elfman (“Beetlejuice,” “Frankenweenie,” “Nightmare Before Christmas”) delivering a great soundtrack that follows every bounce, romp and charge through the land of Oz with gallant fanfares and orchestral swells.

The aesthetics of the movie are top notch, and in other areas the movie does equally as well. The actors all play their parts well, with Franco adding a bit of fun to the role of the greedy yet well-meaning Oz, with all the actors giving fair performances that get across the sorrow, joy and humor that Oz has been known for.

Likewise the movie is also well directed with “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi taking the reins, even though some moments can feel really cheesy with the way special effects are applied and cameras are used. However, he makes great use of all the elements of the movie to make it very entertaining for everyone to see.

Plot wise, the movie is a bit clichéd, it sort of follows the old plot of a liar acting out as who people claim him to be and getting found out by some, but it helps with getting Oz to his eventual great and powerful self-image. It can also feel at times like it is pandering to fans of the original movie with adding certain shout outs like a cowardly lion or scarecrows, so that can be a bit off-putting to some.

But by the end, this trip to Oz is definitely a welcome one for all to enjoy, from the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. The imagination manages to come through in the way the movie is rendered and directed and in no way feels like it is trying to disrespect the source material. So come one, come all, witness “Oz: The Great and Powerful.”

Ryan Funes is a lover of all things movie, TV, video games and stories and wants to become a television writer someday. In his spare time he enjoys hanging with friends, tapping into his imagination, and watching cartoons of all kinds.