Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Oz the Great and Powerful


I don’t see a lot of 3D movies. Partly it’s the extra expense, and partly it’s that I don’t think it really enhances most movies. I’m fine with the flat. But every once in a while I figure I’ll sample the technology again. I did it with Avatar, which was greatly enhanced by 3D, and with Hugo, which didn’t really need it. This one looked like a good one to try out for my bi-yearly 3D because the trailers showed a truly magical landscape. (Before the movie began we saw trailers for two upcoming juggernauts: Iron Man 3, and Man of Steel, both of them in 3D. And I realized I had less than zero interest in seeing them, in 3D, 2D, 1D, or ZeroD. When, oh when, will audiences tire of idiotic superhero movies? It’s looking like the answer is never.)

So, right off, the production design is dazzling, Oscar-worthy. Vista after stunning vista … until, frankly, I got a little tired of stunning vistas. Especially when almost everything that was happening in those vistas was all wrong.

It was clever of them to open the film with the old 1930s aspect ratio and in black and white like the classic, then expand to wide-screen color when Oz got to Oz. And that’s about the last clever thing they did. First and worst, James Franco was all wrong for the role. I just wasn’t interested in him at all. Then, his companions on the Yellow Brick Road were pretty poor substitutes for the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. They were both CGI creations: a broken ceramic doll and a flying monkey there for comic relief, who was given no funny lines or behaviors. I quickly grew to hate him. In fact, what the movie lacked was any sense of wit, any innocent delight. The script was plain rotten. Every line was predictable.

The only thing I had any interest in was the sibling rivalry between the three sisters: Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams. Something much, much better could have been made of that, but they didn’t. I guess it had already been done, in the musical Wicked. Mila’s red hat and leather pants was about the most interesting thing about her.

And how long will it take before everyone is as tired as I am of magical duels, a la Harry Potter, when two people face off and hurl competing bolts of electricity at each other? That’s a scene guaranteed to put me to sleep. Can anyone think of something more interesting for two wizards, witches, warlocks, whatevers to do when they go at each other? Throw elephants at each other, maybe? Give each other raging hemorrhoids, attacks of diarrhea, turn them into Justin Bieber? Anything but those boring, uninteresting bolts of un-magical magic.