Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz. At first he thinks he’s hit the jackpot-fame and fortune are his for the taking. That all changes, however, when he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity-and even a bit of wizardry-Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.
A magician finds himself transported to the magical land of Oz, where witches, flying monkeys and yellow brick roads exist. He is mistaken for the saviour of Oz and must decide whether or not to stay and be king, or leave and find his way home.
I love Sam Raimi, the man and his invented work with a camera are what made me want to get into filmmaking in the first place. So to see him handling big projects like this (and Spiderman) was a joy for me to see. Oz the Great & Powerful is a CGI heavy film that demands a creative eye behind the lens. After his work on big budget films like Spiderman, it seemed like an easy choice for Raimi to be the one behind Oz and for the most part, it works. The films shortcomings keep it from being really magical and memorable, like the original from 39, but Oz has enough whimsy to keep the kids entertained and the adults smiling.
The land of Oz is indeed magical, with vibrant colours around every corner, memorable spots like the poppy fields and the dark forest for us older viewers, but even in saying all that I can’t help but feel how fake it all is. This film suffers from the same troubles that plagued Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, the visuals, although great for the story, add no sense of realism to the image. I hate overly used CGI in films to the point of noticing the awkward placement of actors in front of the green screen. The first major offender of this is Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, none of the actors made me believe they were in the settings they were. Both Wonderland and Oz have this same feeling.
While I’m getting the negatives out of the way, I must say that what everyone is saying about Mila Kunis is true, she was miscast in this role. I think she was chosen more for her beauty and star power than her acting abilities, which is sad cause it looks like she really is trying here. The story for her character here is a sad one and the second half I think suffers a bit because the threat from her is not really present. I don’t really know why I’m tip-toeing around the issue because those who know The Wizard of Oz, know that Dorothy kills one witch with her house and the other with water, leaving Glinda the good witch in a bubble as the saviour. Seeing the Kunis character go in the direction she does didn’t really effect me as much as I wanted it to. Consider that the failure of the script more so than the actors. Not enough time is really given to her for her transformation to affect the viewer.