Oz the Great and Powerful is a film which feels like it’s snuck up on me. I was aware of its development and saw a billboard the other day but other than that it has had very little promotion for a $200 million movie. Still, while looking for something to watch at the cinema on a Friday night we found the movie was opening and risked a busy Friday screening to see the film blind. By blind, I mean without trailers and reviews etc. Not actually blind. That’s best saved for the Twilight movies.
Oz is based on the novels of L. Frank Baum and is a sequel of sorts to 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. The film is set in the same world and features many of the characters found in the MGM classic but is updated in tone and effects and focuses on the story of the Wizard of Oz – how he came to Oz and how he became who he was when Dorothy dropped in years later. The movie begins in beautiful monochrome black and white and 4:3 aspect ratio as we find ourselves in Kansas in 1905. The arrogant but charming circus magician Oz (James Franco) is having yet another disastrous appearance on stage and is booed off. Back in his caravan he spies a weightlifter coming for him after Oz interfered with his woman. Oz escapes aboard a hot air balloon and ends up in the eye of a tornado which transports him to the brightly coloured (and widescreen) Land of Oz. In Oz he meets the Witch Theodora (Mila Kunis) who asks for help in defeating the wicked Witch Glinda (Michelle Williams) in exchange for a place on the throne as King of Oz.