Take a Guild Wars 2 Engineer with the conman talents of a Mesmer, align him with a water Elementalist, and bring him to battle again two power-hungry Elementalists, one fire and one air, add some steampunk-based psychedelia, since in the time period of the early 1900s, all the supposedly bad narcotics were commonly used in various over the counter products and totally legal, and you have Oz the Great and Powerful. This movie takes a new approach to the story of a land that can only be found by route of tornado from our world, and tells us how the great Wizard of Oz became such a legend in Americana pop culture. Just like the original movie, the prologue starts in a black and white Kansas setting, but not on a farm in the 1930s. This time it is 20 years earlier in a travelling circus, and focus of the tale is on a mesmerizing illusionist and conman, Oscar Diggs (James Franco), or Oz for short. He has his usual little bag tricks on and off stage, and his escape routes are planned before anyone even know what hit them. He’s a player with the ladies and a charmer for just about everyone until his secrets get out.
After bungling a performance that is so convincing that a young disabled lady asks for him to magically make her walk, his lies are catching up to him, and as he makes his way from his stage, the circus strongman finds out that Oz has been putting moves on his wife. Soon he find his only way out of this scuffle is up, and makes a hasty getaway on a hot air balloon. As he launches a twister is building, and soon he is riding the winds in a very dangerous journey to a colourful land that looks exactly like the one in the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds“.
As this movie was supposed to be seen in 3D, the view might experience some scenes that look like they might explode out of their screen. So, if you watch this and get a little jumpy or disoriented, remember that. As Oz comes down into this strange world in a craft that both flies and floats, his landing is wet and dangerous, but safe. He is found by a well dressed young lady, Theodora –which is another form of the name Dorothy… (Mila Kunis). She asks if he is a wizard, because a great wizard from another land will save their world will save theirs from the tyranny of a wicked witch. Theodora is a very pretty dark-haired young lady, and Oz turns on the charm and says he is the wizard. She says she will guide him to the Emerald City to meet with her sister, Evanora (Rachel Weiss), an adviser to the king. Later, Oz rescues a true flying monkey in a bellhop uniform, Finley (Zach Braff), who soon becomes his best friend and confidante.
After reaching Emerald City and meeting with Evanora, and the Oz herald, Knuck (Tony Cox), he is sent to kill the wicked witch. En route to find her, Oz and Finley find a small village made of teapots that has been severely damaged, and they find one survivor. A young girl made of porcelain. Oz uses not magic, but a little low tech glue, and helps her to walk again, and soon China Girl (Joey King), becomes part of the group. They are in for a big surprise when they find the so-called wicked witch is actually the good witch, Glinda (Michelle Williams), and sisters, Evanora and Theodora are the ones holding Oz down with their evil magic.
So, it’s good against evil. Water magic, steampunk tech, fast-talking, and a combined unit of Quadlings, Munchkins, Tinkers versus a combo of fire and air magic and some overblown egos. While this movie is vivid and lovely, it hearkens back to some old school stories, and keeps with the theme of a dull 1900s Americana to a bright, but mysterious adventure that all of us need to take. It will keep you entertained during its 130 minutes of viewing time. It might give the kids a little scare, but the Wicked Witch of the West was always a scary villain to kids ever since she was dreamed up. How she came to be that way was Oz’s doing, and you will find out how.
In this season of reds and greens, take some time our for something strange and different, full of every colour, and make sure there is plenty of pillows,pop, and popcorn to hold you down for this time. It will open your eyes to a part of Oz history you might have missed if you had never read the books. After this, you might want to pick up those books written over a century ago and see what you might find that is not in the movies or video games.
I give this film a Musing review of