Oz the Great and Powerful review

Posted on: 08 March 2013 by 50connect editorial

If Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned ... don’t ever scorn a witch!

You don't so much follow the yellow brick road as whizz along it in this fast-paced and thoroughly entertaining prequel to the 1939 classic, The Wizard of Oz.

In Oz the Great and the Powerful, director Sam Raimi brilliantly summons up the old magic and expertly combines it with a liberal splash of modern wit and CGI. Throw into the mix James Franco as the titular 'shallow as a puddle' con artist (wizard), Oscar “Oz” Diggs, who takes a trip over the rainbow, courtesy of another Kansas twister, and the scene is set for a fun-filled couple of hours behind 3D shades.

Oz (Franco) is a flawed and insecure travelling circus magician; a hustler with a serious weakness for women and a powerful fear of commitment - and it is as a result of one of his many indiscretions that the adventure begins. Having narrowly avoided the fists of the husband of a past conquest, Franco jumps into a hot air balloon to make good his escape ... big mistake!

In the film’s first big set piece, Raimi fashions some wonderful visual sequences and a hilarious chase sequence (in 3D). In a tip of the hat to its 1939 predecessor, the opening 20 minutes are sepia-tinted black & white - full marks to the production staff on that one. However, if you are looking for a carbon copy sing-along with the friends of Dorothy, look elsewhere, this is an altogether darker more mischievous adventure.

The land of Oz is as you'd expect, magic. It may lack the vivid intensity of colour that Judy Garland's arrival in Munchkin land had, but it makes up for it with 3D trickery and CGI vistas.

As Franco touches down on terra firma we learn that the Land of Oz has lost its King (poisoned at the hands of an unknown witch), and a prophecy tells of a great magician who will rescue the land from tyranny. Step forward Franco, fresh from a full-spin tornado scene - complete with blink inducing 3D effects. After winning the heart of Princess Theodora (Mila Kunis), and not exactly discouraging her when she suggests he will fulfil the prophecy, his philandering past catches up with him and if Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned – don’t ever scorn a witch!

Franco is assisted on his romp along the yellow brick road by a wisecracking flying monkey (dressed as a bellboy) voiced to perfection by the excellent Zach Braff and Joey King as dainty China Girl – a knife carrying china doll with an attitude problem.

This is a colourful, expertly reimagined adventure that will suit all ages – though the very young might be a bit overawed by the noise and some of the beasties. It keeps the pace well right up to the finale in the Emerald City and who cares that some of the laughs are signposted or that the ending is predictable? It’s all good fun and the movie doesn’t suffer for it. Altogether now, “We’re off to see the wizard...”

China Girl and Finley

China Girl (Joey King) and Finley (Zach Braff)

The Emerald City

Oz and Theodora approach the Emerald City

Glinda played by Michelle Williams

Glinda the Good played by Michelle Williams

Oz the Great and Powerful

In theatres from Friday 8 March. For more information visit Disney's official site Oz the Great and Powerful.

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