Daniel’s Critical Corner: “Oz the Great and Powerful”

   The Feathered Look Is Coming Back !   

Hello Everyone !
~ Welcome to Daniel’s Critical Corner * ~
Prepare to be blown away by:
♦♦♦♦ Oz the Great and Powerful ♦♦♦♦

* Nowhere near Kansas

I’ve got to admit, it’s rather refreshing to know that there are still many fans
who are totally crazy (but that’s how it goes) over anything “Oz”, even in this
day and age.  Friends of Dorothy seem to be popping up all over the place !!!
You can’t watch the news anymore without seeing pretty rainbows.

Does anyone recall that strange kid in the movie “A Christmas Story” ?  He is
sporting a weird aviator hat and goggles.  You know, the kid who stands next
to Ralphie saying he likes “The Wizard of Oz”.  Well, that is me in a nutshell !
No, not the hat part (but perhaps the goggles on occasion).  I really do enjoy
tales involving the aforementioned master of magic.

I am very happy to report that Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” does not
ever disappoint.  People were quite skeptical that today’s filmmakers could do
the iconic source material justice !!!  Thanks to smoke and mirrors, a lovely
companion piece emerges (despite what the naysayers feared).

Most folks seem to be looking for similarities to the classic 1939 Judy Garland
flick.  Legendary author L. Frank Baum’s “Oz” books are indeed referenced to
some degree, but few individuals worried about that.  Those showing concern
are now content (because they’re back on their meds) !

It goes without saying that we’ve all had our own “Wizard of Oz” dreams.  At
least I assume so !!!  My dream involved me skipping along (whilst sporting
some ruby Air Jordans).  I was joined by Zsa Zsa Gabor, Jabba the Hutt and
Rex Reed.  Rex kept making fun of Jabba’s weight so Zsa Zsa slapped him. I
woke up screaming !!!   Rex did not look good in that famous blue and white
checkered dress.  Hmm…  What was it made out of again ?

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Oppan Gingham Style !

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You gotta love Judy Garland’s “Dorothy”.  Surprisingly, Dorothy’s nowhere to
be found in 2013’s lush prequel !  All of the action takes place in 1905, many
years before the farm girl’s famed adventures.  We’re introduced to someone
who might just be Dorothy’s Mom.  She’s going to marry a man named “John
Gale”.  Doesn’t that last name sound familiar ?

This woman is breaking things off with her old beau, “Oscar Diggs”.  Oscar is a
philandering cad and flim-flam man !!!  He is also a magician, with a snake-oil
salesman’s demeanor.  James Franco portrays Oscar with sleazy aplomb, and
he proceeds to break hearts with an effectively deceptive smile.

In crisp black and white sequences, Oscar cons his way through a magic show
before being called out as a fraud.  He is chased around by an angry guy who
looks like “Mr. Clean’s” grandfather (but he does escape him by stealing a hot
air balloon).  What a gas !  Oscar’s troubles, of course, are far from over.

While he is soaring above his home state of Kansas, a terrible tornado touches
down in the balloon’s vicinity.  Oscar starts praying when his fragile transport
gets sucked away by the ravenous wind.

Things eventually settle down, as calming breezes carry the frightened fellow
over a stunningly beautiful rainbow.  After another scare, Oscar seems to be
alright when his dilapidated balloon basket lands in a shallow pond…  Amazed
by the colorful new world he has discovered, our wet friend makes his way to
land.  An attractive young woman wearing black pants greets him…

Wait a second…  What’s up with the pants ?  It’s 1905 for heaven’s sake.  Who
does she think she is, a suffragette ?  Katharine Hepburn ?  At any rate, Oscar
is totally smitten !  “Theodora” (Mila Kunis) charms him with her alluring and
mysterious presence.  Turns out, she’s actually a witch !

Theodora is a good witch in the land of Oz…  She tells Oscar that he might just
be the wizard that her land has been waiting on, as noted in a prophecy !  She
decides to take him home (so he can meet her sister).  Bad idea !  On the way
to her palace in the Emerald City, they meet a talking flying monkey and have
a brief encounter with a cowardly lion !!!

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What Did I Just Step In ?

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The monkey “Finley” (voiced by Zach Braff) joins them as they all go forward.
Oscar meets Theodora’s noxious sibling, “Evanora” (Rachel Weiss).  Evanora
is even a bigger manipulator than Oscar, shown by the way she weaves webs
of deceit !!!  Her good-hearted sister’s caught in her nefarious plot, involving
yet another witch.  This one’s called “Glinda”

Glinda (depicted divinely by Michelle Williams) is allegedly a monstrous fiend.
Oscar learns that if he kills her, the entire kingdom will be his to rule, and he’ll
get a pile of gold too.  Despite being somewhat unscrupulous, Mr. Diggs never
really wanted to harm anyone…

Now things start to get interesting.  Oscar does have a conscience, and he’s at
odds with himself…  After many years of womanizing and cheating, this man is
seeing the light.  He wants to find his purpose !  He grabs his monkey and hits
the “Yellow Brick Road” in search of adventure Don’t knock it.  It worked for
Elton John.  The road that is, not the monkey grabbing…

On their road trip, the duo encounter a tiny girl made out of china.  The effects
used to bring this adorable character to life are simply mesmerizing !!!  She is
from “China Town”, and has a courageous spirit.  Joey King provides her voice,
and this porcelain princess turns out to be priceless.

She joins Oscar and Finley on their quest, as they head towards the foreboding
realm of Glinda.  But when Glinda and Oscar meet face to face, sparks start to
fly.  Love is in the air (along with winged baboons, balloons and houses).  This
romance causes drama, when one of the sisters turns green with envy.

It isn’t long before the “Munchkins” come to help out…  These perky little folks
sometimes get mistaken for “Oompa Loompas”.  Munchkins inhabit Oz and are
basically normal citizens who happen to be small in stature !  Oompa Loompas
are orange (and only appear if you’ve had too much chocolate).

With all of the wonder and whimsy that this film creates, it’s hard to go wrong.
The colors are brilliant, the CGI is flawless and the 3D treatment is reminiscent
of “Avatar” !!!  A cinematic success, this frothy flick feels connected to the old
stuff (while presenting many contemporary spins).  When we are talking about
CGI tornadoes, we are talking about “contemporary spins”.  Ha-ha !

 Hold on to your hat.  “Oz the Great and Powerful” is a deliciously wicked ride.

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Would I Recommend This ?  Yes

Daniel’s Critical Rating:  8.5 out of 10

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In memory of Roger Ebert (1942-2013)

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