By Elizabeth Brenner
“Oz: The Great and Powerful” is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz—it reveals the origins of Glinda, the Wicked witches, the man behind the curtain and even Dorothy’s mother. Oz: The Great and Powerful kept the Oz movie tradition of having a few characters from the sepia toned real world have a counterpart in the technicolor world of Oz.
The beginning of the movie is set at the sepia-toned Baum Brother’s, a cheap traveling circus, where we are introduced to Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs, or Oz for short. James Franco plays Oz, an egotistical magician who gives music boxes to anything in a skirt. He gets himself into trouble and ends up in the magical land of Oz.
James Franco played the character well, even though I imagined Oz to be more handsome. It was reported that both Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp were considered for the part; while both men are extremely handsome, they would have been too old to play Oz. Johnny Depp would probably have played the part in his signature weird style, which would have been too much for the role.
The movie centers around three witches: Evanora, Theodora and Glinda. It also elaborates on the prophecy of Oz. Theodora (Mila Kunis), more commonly known as the Wicked Witch of The West, is introduced as a young and over-trusting witch. She lives in the palace with her sister, Evanora (Rachel Weisz), the plotting royal adviser. I thought Kunis portrayed an innocent young woman perfectly. As for Weisz, she did a good job, but it seemed like she was holding back. I would liked to have seen more character development for both characters. It was never explained why Evanora was evil or why she believed that Theodora has wickedness in her.
Michelle Williams played Glinda, the daughter of the late King of Oz, beautifully. My only complaint was a single piece of her that was completely out of place—it was distracting.
As far as the screenplay was concerned, there were some inconsistencies in the movie. For instance, when Theodora cries, her skin burns from the tears. This makes sense since water ultimately melts the wicked witch. But when Theodora is first introduced, surrounded by water, she doesn’t even flinch. Another example is that everyone thinks the wicked witch is outside of the Emerald City, but no one seems to notice that the flying baboons she controls come out of the Emerald City in broad daylight.
The script itself felt rushed. Scenes that could have benefit from character development and character relationships were lacking. For example, when Theodora meets Oz and dances with him by moonlight, she suddenly wants to marry him. It felt like something was missing.
The special effects were the real star of the film. The movie started with impressive 3D effects, and while they were only used during the credits, it was still entertaining. There were specific scenes where the 3D was very effective, and caused people in the audience to flinch and shriek. That being said, it might be a little frightening for children 7 and under.
“Oz the Great and Powerful” is a great movie, but if they would have added 20 more minutes for character development, it would have been even better.