Oz The Great And Powerful - Cinema Review

'an enjoyable balloon ride through an imaginative fantasy nirvana'

Whilst many of its vast selection of ideas do not make it to full fruition, or are unceremoniously dumped amidst the ultra-shiny CGI, Oz The Great And Powerful proves to be one of those films that survives on the mere inclusion of some of its deeper dalliances. The type of children's film long forgotten - or handed down to more franchise-friendly honour guards; Harry Potter and, erm, Percy Jackson - Oz is an enjoyable balloon ride through an imaginative fantasy nirvana, beautifully brought to life by a combination of director Sam Raimi and several very expensive computers.

During a black and white opening segment, which nicely introduces the film and plays around well with the 3D aspect, one of the major themes of Oz is set up. Womaniser Oz (James Franco) has the gab but none of the gift. His substance lacking, a raft of jilted partners and adultered husbands in his wake, Oz's relations with the opposite sex only seem to lead to bad things. This theme, casting misogyny and promiscuousness as a primary destructive force, continues throughout. Even (or perhaps, especially) in Oz's fantasy land, all bad things come from his treatment of women, his blasé attitude to feelings and responsibility. Oz's libido may be great but its power only resides in the dark side of the force.

This, the most developed of the ideas in Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire's script, shows just what Raimi can do when given the benefit of a plot with subtext and a film with a willingness to go to places beyond battling token antagonists. Other ideas get shorter shrift. Late on, there are hints that the film had something to say about existing in 'a bubble', with what exactly that refers to (celebrity culture, finance) left far too open to interpretation. A clear nod towards the power of cinema, arguably specifically referencing the film which came before this in the 'franchise', is left a little too late, almost ending up tacked on when the differing aspect ratio and black and white of the opening promised much more.

Led by the multi-faceted Franco, much better at acting than anything else (I've just finished reading his collection of short stories, Palo Alto, which is abysmal) the cast shine, with Mila Kunis giving a well-rounded, non-stereotypical portrayal of a woman in trouble and Michelle Williams getting two hours to be lovely, which she does effortlessly. The exception to the main group is, surprisingly, Rachel Weisz, whose role is under-written, having the potential to be as pleasantly complex as Kunis but getting none of her character's substance. Zach Braff and Joey King, who feature prominently in different roles, are fantastic company.

Eventually, and despite the noticeable problems, Oz works because it aspires. It is that rarest of things: a film which exists in the previously fictional hinterland between the point when Hollywood made interesting, daring, films and the point where special effects were discovered and mastered.


  1. The film is a visual marvel, i felt like i was in heaven while watching the breathtaking scenes . it takes your imagination to unexplored depths. Brilliant use of technology.

    1. Yes, good summary. The effects and the 3D worked really well on this occasion, I thought.