Oz the Great and Powerful [2013]

3 stars and a half

OZ-The-Great-and-Powerful-oz-the-great-and-powerful-33902498-500-625Directed by: Sam Raimi
Written by: Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire; based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Starring: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff, Joey King

Here’s something that might come as a shocker: I am not a fan of The Wizard of Oz. I think it’s extremely corny and that time has not been at all kind to it.

Ray Bolger and Judy Garland are great, but Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion is embarrassingly bad and one of the main reasons why I just can’t stand that classic.

It was surprising to me, then, that I was really looking forward to another trip down the Yellow Brick Road ever since I caught the trailer for Oz the Great and Powerful. Raimi behind the camera and Franco, Williams, Kunis and Weisz in front of it promised a quality experience.

It did not disappoint. Sam Raimi and writers Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire dial down the cheesiness of the original (do not fret, some of it is still there, of course) and give us a fun family film. The colorful land of Oz in 2013 had to look absolutely amazing, and it does. The visuals are easily one of the better aspects of this fantasy.

As the titular wizard, James Franco plays James Franco, which normally I’d have a problem with, but the guy’s real personality matches his character perfectly. Besides, we know Johnny Depp or Robert Downey Jr. would’ve played themselves as well, so can’t say other options could have been better. It’s the witches who steal the show, though, and talented actresses Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz (looking gorgeous, by the way; bravo Daniel Craig) all bring something unique and memorable to the Oz table.

Purists may find this chapter uninspired and pale in comparison to the 1939 classic, but if you, like me, don’t even like that one in the first place, Raimi’s version could very well become your favorite adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s oeuvre.