Today, I have a very special review. It's one of a movie I never wanted to see, but after recovering from a fever I had the balls to go and watch it anyway. This is Oz, the Great and Powerful.
Out of all the movies with bad acting, cliche, predictable plotlines, and poor cast choices, this movie is one of the biggest in all three categories. This film was directed by Sam Raimi, whose career first began in the '80s with his extremely low-budget yet somehow extremely popular Evil Dead in 1981, which has become something of a cult classic. Six years later he followed it up with an equally successful sequel with much greater special effects and "splatter" gore, which was around the same time becoming a staple of the early movies of New Zealand director Peter Jackson. Throughout the early '90s, Raimi made some fairly decent movies and some quite bad, notably his third Evil Dead movie, Army of Darkness, in 1993 which found success yet was considered not as good as the first two. Then the next year, Raimi came out with a live-action adaption of the Flintstones cartoon, which bombed as he continued to make fairly crappy movies for the next several years, with the notable exception of the crime thriller A Simple Plan in 1998. Then, in 2002, Raimi made Spider-Man, which while not exactly Oscar-worthy, was considered quite a hit, good enough for him to make a sequel two years later which was received with even more success, although in 2007 with Spider-Man 3 it went all downhill and the franchise was put on hold, to be remade by another director in 2012. Raimi made few films from then on, but then was announced to have taken the helm of a new movie, a prequel to the classic 1939 The Wizard of Oz.
Oz the Great and Powerful actually originated from Disney's hope to produce the original Wizard of Oz, but MGM bought the rights before Disney could get it's hands on them. However, in 1954, Disney actually bought the rights to the other of L. Frank Baum's original Oz books, but didn't make an actual film until 1985's Return to Oz, which was a box office bomb which forced Disney to discard the Oz rights and turn them into a public domain, despite Return's slow gaining of popularity over the years into a cult classic. It was around this time when the famed backstory of the Witch of the West, entitled "Wicked", was written. In 2009, Disney finally reclaimed Oz rights and began work on the film, although due to various other live-action movies in production, they waited a while, hiring Raimi as a director and choosing cast members. Apparently the filming was very tumultous and ground to a halt multiple times. Finally, on March 8, 2013, the movie was released and since has been considered quite a blockbuster despite rather mixed reception. And me.......I hated it. SO, let's dive into the wonderful world of Oz and see what sort of crazy shit Raimi did to it with Oz the Great and Powerful!
So, we start off with credits that look like they had been stolen from an unused Tim Burton project, before we see Kansas in the traditional black-and-white of the beginning of the original movie. And to be fair, I think this was rather respectful of Raimi, and it has to be one of the insanely few parts of this movie I thought pleasing. So anyway, we meet our hero, a lady's man and circus magician called Oscar Diggs, played by James Franco. And here's our first problem: Incredibly poor casting. James Franco can act certainly, but he doesn't seem to have the acting form worthy of a charismatic yet crafty wizard like Oz, perhaps someone who has more experience in being the hero would do. And because you will certainly be asking for it, I would cast Oz as either Hugh Jackman, Tom Hanks, or Johnny Depp (who actually was the first choice as Oz but turned it down, rather dumb of him as this movie would be SO MUCH BETTER!).
Anyway, Oscar goes by the stage name Oz, and is cheered in his performance, until he denies using magic to heal a wheelchair-bound girl in the audience, in which case he is booed away. As a storm approaches the circus grounds, commotion breaks out as a strongman attacks Oz...why he did this I have no idea, maybe it's an act, just like the actors in this movie are acting that they can act. ACT-CEPTION! So Oz runs into a hot air balloon, which is really stupid because there is a DAMN TORNADO right outside the circus, didn't he notice? Well regardless, the balloon is caught in the twister as Oz curls up helpless in the balloon, somehow not flying out of it, let alone his fucking HAT. He prays, and somehow very soon after, the twister stops and he's moving rather calmly into....Pandora? Okay, who changed the set? I thought this was the land of Oz, not a planet overrun by blue-skinned aliens! No really, now I know what that giant planet that was always on the horizon on Pandora was; that was the planet of Oz! They're in the same solar system, no doubt about it! Their wildlife is just so insanely similar, they both even have goddamn floating mountains! So Oscar leaves the balloon to observe the wildlife, and runs into...I think our heroine, who claims she can cast spells but honestly looks more like a 19th-century socialite on a safari with Hector Barbossa's hat. Actually, this is Theodora, the Empress of Byzanti-er, I mean a good witch played by Mila Kunis, who I've never seen in a movie before but apparently has some sort of cult following for previous films. Almost immediately, she is honoring Oscar as the wizard prophesized to overthrow the "Wicked Witch" who killed her father, the King of Oz. What I don't get is why Oscar goes by Oz and this land is called Oz, but Theodora gives us a rather flimsy explanation: Apparently this prophecy whose foreteller NOBODY in the movie can seem to remember says that the wizard will be identified because his name is the same as the land he will rule. But Oz's real name is Oscar, so it makes no sense. Maybe OZZY OSBOURNE is the real wizard! Yeah, that would be BADASS, he would be a much greater wizard than James Franco!
What annoys me most of all is how much of a damn Mary Sue Kunis' character is! At least in this form (SPOILERS), she has little to no character development, keeps claiming to have magical powers yet has to be saved by the CON MAN from the Wicked Witch's minions who chase them on their way to Emerald City, and as they camp for the night, it's implied they have sex after having only met a few hours before! I wonder what Oz is thinking about all this. I'm sure he imagines Theodora going, "You have the same name as our kingdom, therefore you are our Messiah, FUCK ME!" I hereby label Theodora a DOUCHE. So anyway, on the way to Emerald City, Oscar is informed of the riches awaiting him as the new king, and then reminded that he'll need a queen...the rules of Emerald City are really confusing, since when did a king NEED a queen? Okay, to have heirs obviously, but they keep implying he MUST marry Theodora! If he's the king he can marry whoever he wants! Good god, she is SO devoted to this man who has made absolutely no proof yet of his alleged wizardry, leadership skills, competence as a monarch, and most importantly, THEY HAVE ONLY JUST MET! Of I had been hailed a wizard by some Victorian-age socialite who then demanded I have sex with her, I'd probably do the Home Alone scream and tap my heels together, no place like home! Well anyway, they continue on the road and meanwhile Oscar encounters a flying monkey dressed in Droopy's doorman costume from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. They save him from being attacked by a lion, who I SWEAR is stock footage from the Chronicles of Narnia movie. Seriously, it's the Liam Neeson lion completely, no change! So anyway, Oscar does some fancy tricks, spooks the lion, and he runs away. And that's the only cameo we get of the Cowardly Lion, who looked far more realistic in the original movie.
So after saving him, the monkey pledges what he calls a "life debt" to Oscar, and I hope to god it doesn't involve the Wookie Life Day. And what is the monkey ordered to do throughout nearly all this movie? He carries Oscar's stuff and basically is the Rob Schneider of monkeys, providing he isn't really one already. Well anyway, we move on to Emerald City, which I'll admit looks more emerald than the original but that's only a close call. There, they meet Theodora's sister Evanora, played by Rachel Weisz. And let me tell you, she is the most underdramatic actor in the entire movie, saying almost all her lines quietly and slowly with as little emotion as possible, as if she were reading the lines from behind the camera. And wait until you see Mila Kunis later in the movie, but SPOILERS! Okay, so while Theodora is absolutely head-over-not-yet-green-heels in love with Oscar/Oz, Evanora is rather skeptical....GIANT UNDERSTATEMENT. Why is it that people are hailed as the prophesized ones so soon without even the slightest proof of their capability? So Evanora tempts Oscar by bringing him to Emerald City's treasury where he literally bathes in gold, until she says that he isn't king yet, and first must go to the Dark Forest, which has no genuine location because they couldn't think of one in time for this pointless plot to take effect, and kill the Wicked Witch who murdered the King of Oz. She gives him the advice that the only way to destroy the Witch is to destroy her wand, which is the source of all her power. ONE RING, maybe?
Anyway, Oscar leaves Emerald City with the flying monkey...I thought they were evil! Anyway, they are on the Yellow Brick Road which doesn't have the swirly pattern of the original movie, when they take a detour to what appears to be the ruins of...and this is true...Chinatown. No really, the sign on this settlement made completely of china says Chinatown. Anyway, it's completely ruined by the Wicked Witch, when they come across a little girl made out of china who was the only survivor...and she shakes off her parents being slaughtered and her home destroyed rather well, not to mention her legs being broken. Okay, Oscar does glue them back but still! Also, she looks rather creepy, do take note. Anyway, Oscar tells the china girl to go to Emerald City, where she'll be safe...and she refuses! What an idiot, forsaking shelter, safety, and defense from the Wicked Witch to travel exactly TO the person who destroyed her life! And she stands no chance whatsoever, what a derp! So the trio travel to the forest, where they see the black-robed Wicked Witch enter a graveyard and put down her wand...and Oscar tries to steal it and manages to, but the Witch finds him and reveals herself to be....Michelle Williams? WHY?
Yes, Michelle Williams has been considered one of the better actresses of the 21st century, and now she's turned into Glinda, the Good Witch who was framed Evanora, who was the real Wicked Witch. Yeah, big shock! Anyway, Evanora uses her crystal balls to locate Oscar and Glinda, and sees them together, using that to finally convince Theodora to join her side. Once again, I continue to hate Mila Kunis' character for her blandness, weakling attitude, and such a gullible mind, I bet it took decades for her to realize where babies come from! Anyway, Theodora somehow ends up with a darker heart, as Evanora has convinced her that Oz is courting all THREE of the Witches in a love...square, rectangle, whatever? Dunno, the plot feels more like Twilight as it goes. Regardless, Evanora offers Theodora an apple that she says is magic, and will restore her heart....and I SWEAR she uses the EXACT same damn lines as the crone-disguised queen in the original Snow White that pioneered Disney. Yeah, Disney Studios was so desperate to find good lines, they had to rip off their very inception! Okay, so Theodora eats the apple and for some reason starts taking her clothes off. NO! YOU SAID IT WAS PG! Well, not everything thankfully, as she collapses behind a table and her arm smacks right onto the table, completely green.
So anyway, Glinda brings Oscar and his two friends in her magic bubbles (yes, they actually kept THAT) to her castle/stronghold/passive town with a forcefield shield/I don't know what the hell it is but you coulda given it a fucking name! Okay, so Glinda says only people of true hearts can cross through the forcefield into her castle thing, and Oscar is unsure since he was a con man....and I was hoping he'd fail. But NO, he actually passes through fine, WHAT THE HELL? That entire quote you said there, Glinda, was absolutely unnecessary since apparently ANYONE can pass! You bloody DOUCHE! Well, guess who chased them? The classic Wicked Witch guardsmen who sadly DON'T sing "Yo hee ho!" like in the original but something similar that you can NEVER understand. And to be fair, they didn't change them much, I kinda expected the guards to have lasers or something but no, they're fairly similar. Rare success there, Raimi.
Well in Glinda's home thing, they introduce all the people of Oz who Glinda says will be part of Oscar's army to defeat the Witches. And they're consisting of tinkers, cloth-makers, bakers, and fucking SINGERS. Yep, the Munchkins who fail in this movie. Oscar thinks he stands a chance when Glinda reveals perhaps the second most idiotic thing in the movie...her people aren't allowed to kill anybody. There are several things wrong with this and I can number them:
1. Why the hell didn't Glinda tell Oz this before? I mean, they can't kill anyone, wouldn't that put a damper in his battle plans?
2. Why did she assemble an army in the first place if they couldn't kill anyone?
3. Why did she make this rule in the first place? It seems there's danger fucking EVERYWHERE!
4. At least why isn't there a sort of police force or something? I mean, if the commoners can't kill, who protects the place? Will the magic bubble hold against anything? Then why, fucking WHY make an army???
There, FOUR THINGS WRONG WITH THIS. This Glinda is absolute SHIT!
And just as Oscar is as puzzled as the audience, guess who breaks through the magic bubble? It's Mila Kunis as the Wicked Witch, and does she look like the classic one? Well...NO. In fact, she looks like Bella Swan after swimming in a swamp for a decade and being in a paint fight with only green paint. Just...WOW. WOW THE FUCKING SHIT THIS WICKED WITCH IS DUMB. Hell, I bet Bella Swan's actress would look more intimidating! Alright, look Mr. Raimi: There are many things to do to make a movie, and there are even more things you must do to make a GOOD movie. You know that, you've done this before and it WORKED. And one of them, one of the most IMPORTANT by far, is getting the right cast for such a film, and you didn't just fail at it, you fucking blew it and screwed it all up!. What's more, you're taking a well-beloved classic film of our childhoods and trying to make a story behind much of it, that's a heavy responsibility and you agreed to bear it and respect the iconic original story, and so far you've done that in the EXTREME MINIMUM. This isn't your Evil Dead series, you can't just write the story up. This is a classic book, a classic movie that is an archetype of filmography, and overall a franchise that has existed long before you were writing the screenplays for your first movies! And you have the BALLS to take one of the greatest villains ever, the iconic Wicked Witch of the West, and turning her from Margaret Hamilton's mildly cackling, decent-acting, hideous, and overall threatening character into a FUCKING LEATHER-CLAD, GREEN-FACED SPARKLY-GODDAMN-VAMPIRE! AND THIS IS BECAUSE YOU FUCKING CHOSE TO KEEP MILA KUNIS IN THIS ROLE! THAT IS IT! I AM AGAINST THE ENTIRE GENERAL VIEW ON THIS ACTRESS JUDGING FROM THIS MOVIE, SHE IS HIDEOUS, SHE IS UNTALENTED, AND OVERALL SHE CANNOT FUCKING ACT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU GIVE HER CONSTANT CACKLING THAN EVEN HAMILTON DIDN'T DO, AN OVERACTING, OVERBEARING, AND OVERALL OVERDRAMATIC ATTITUDE THAT NO VILLAIN CAN TRULY USE TO BE INTIMIDATING, AND WHAT'S MORE YOU DON'T EVEN TRY TO MAKE HER AN UGLY WICKED WITCH LIKE SHE IS SUPPOSED TO BE! AND WHY? BECAUSE MILA KUNIS IS ALREADY AN UGLY WICKED WITCH WITH NO TALENT FOR ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND THAT'S FOR YOU SAM RAIMI FOR YOUR SHITTY TAKE, CHOOSING AN ACTRESS WITH AN EXTREME MINIMUM OF EXPERIENCE IN FILM! FOR A ROLE LIKE THIS, YOU SHOULD HAVE PICKED A MORE EXPERIENCED PERSON WHO COULD REALIZE THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN EVIL AND OVERACTING AND THEREFORE MANAGE TO PLAY THIS CHARACTER WITH SOME FORM OF RESPECT AND ACCURACY, BUT OH NO, YOU DIDN'T DO IT, YOU DIDN'T FUCKING DO IT, AND THE REASON WHY IS BECAUSE YOU ARE A GODDARN ARSSSSSEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Alright.....I think I've got it. That's it though, I'm wrapping this movie as quickly as possible. After that....DAMNABLY hideous Mila Kunis Witch trolls Oscar and disappears, cackling with nearly EVERY motion as a character, everyone is clearly scared as Oscar tries to find some way to solve this. And how? By using his magic tricks to scare the enemies, of course! He has his "army" build scarecrows to make the Winkie Guard (that's what the Witches call it, imagine any special forces unit sounding threatening with such a derpy name) think a whole horde is out there, then send their flying monkeys (the EVIL ones that look like Rafiki on steroids) out, across...yep, the poppy fields, where they fall asleep. However, two of the monkeys survive and capture Glinda, bringing her to Emerald City to be executed, while Oscar considers getting a balloon and flying to safety. And to be honest, this is another of those predictable moments in this movie. The Witch of the West who isn't intimidating in the least shoots a fireball, which makes me wonder why she didn't kill Oscar before in that way, but the balloon is revealed to be a fake as Oscar uses projection devices to make his face appear in the air. How everyone falls for this is beyond me, but they do and it seems like he's invincible, and Theodora flees on her broomstick, cackling as FUCKING ANNOYINGLY AS EVER all the way. And god help us if she runs into any damn water, or we'll have to hear Mila Kunis' version of "I'm melting!"
While Rachel Weisz is distracted by this "Oz", the china girl who seems to have disappeared for almost the entirety of the movie rescues the chained-up Glinda. This makes me wonder, why didn't she use her magic to at least incapacitate the flying monkeys? And why isn't she fighting now, she has to wait for a TALKING PIECE OF CHINA to rescue her. And then, she duels in magic with the Witch of the East, and why she didn't use all this clearly DEVASTATING magic before puzzles me! What's more, to think this walking barbie could be at all threatening is an insult to walking barbies like the Olsen twins, that's how low it's gotten. Anyway, Glinda breaks this green amulet which somehow wasn't addressed before as the holder of the Witch's powers, and she turns into a hideous old crone who does not look very threatening yet I heard a little kid scream in the theater, I think he got kicked out. Anyway, she is carried off by her flying monkeys as it becomes day VERY suddenly, makes the sudden transition in Judge Dredd look normal. So now, Oscar is the King of Oz, and he gives gifts to his friends. They better be good ones, I hope! Well, he gives them gifts that are even worse than those he gave the three in the classic movie. He gives the tinker who built his contraptions a switchblade, the Munchkin herald who let him into Emerald City to free Glinda (and who is also a stereotype of the black comedian, a cross between Chris Tucker and Eddie Murphy) a mask with a happy face which he intelligently refuses, he gives his flying monkey his "friendship", and finally asks the china girl to accept everyone else as her new family, worst gift of them all. And then, he starts his projector to keep his mystical image alive and make sure he remains the authority of Emerald City, and brings Glinda behind the curtains to share a last parting...and this is weird, because right after they start kissing the camera switches to the monkey and the black Munchkin who look rather excited, and the china girl is missing...well at least the credits are over, I was worried this movie would NEVER end!
So that's Oz the Great and Powerful, it SUCKED! THIS MOVIE FUCKING SUCKED! It's a disgrace to the original and to the classic books, the casting is absolutely the opposite of what anyone would want, the plot is cliche and predictable, the scenery is admittedly rather breathtaking but unoriginal, the attempts at comic relief turn into awkward Rob Schneider jokes, and then there's the hideous WITCH OF THE WEST'S INSULTING PORTRAYAL! And they say a sequel is in the making, that makes no fucking sense and is probably going to die in development hell, or at least I hope. Okay, this movie isn't the worst one I've seen but that's simply because there are a few movies around even worse, if I had never seen them this would be the worst. Another Disney flop which I'm surprised has a somewhat positive response, although I do believe upon immediate release it was considered very poorly, but gradually gained popularity as more people went to the theaters to watch...well hell no am I watching this piece of flying baboon shit again! I just hope Sam Raimi stops making crappy movies....wait, what's that? His next big project after the Evil Dead remake is a movie based on World of Warcraft? NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, at least I'm not reviewing any more Raimi films. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next review which should be around within the next month or so: Alice in Wonderland: The Old and the New!!!