Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Review of Oz, The Great & Powerful

I have a complicated relationship with the Land of Oz.

As a child, I remember reading Baum’s books and liking them. They didn’t blow me away like Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time, but they were okay.

As an adult, I read Gregory Maguire’s Wicked quartet with relish. He reinvented Oz and its residents, making them much more three-dimension, much more interesting.

After reading Maguire’s work, I was curious to see how the Oz books would hold up, so I started rereading them. Very quickly, I came to regret that decision. The characters were priggish, the narrative was spotty and there were continuity gaffs. I suspect if I were ever to meet Dorothy Gail I would be extremely tempted to give her a smack and tell her to quit being such a little madame!

So, I didn’t have high hopes when I went to see Oz the Great and Powerful at the movies. Alas, I knew within the first fifteen minutes of watching the movie that I had made a horrible, horrible mistake.

Most of the actors are hands-down godawful. James Franco’s performance in this movie has managed to eclipse Hayden Christensen’s awful performance as Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels. That’s not an easy thing to do, in my humble opinion. Mister Franco has lowered the bar for actors everywhere.

The other performances are simply serviceable and easily forgotten. Which will probably be a mercy for most of their careers.

The less said about the dialogue and script the better.

It seemed to me that most of the money on this movie was sunk into the CGI and special FX. The Land of Oz looks suitably impressive, colorful and vibrant. It’s a great pity, then, that it’s inhabited by a bunch of dull, flat characters who are about as charming as case of influenza.

On the Media Scale of Movie Love, I have to give Oz the Great and Powerful 2 out of 10. Don’t waste your money going to see this clunker at the theater. Don’t rent it, don’t stream it. If you must watch it, wait for it to come out on basic cable and make sure you have a lot of booze on hand to blunt its raw awfulness.

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