Film review: Oz the Great and Powerful

What I am looking for in a movie is not an exquisite balance of artistic merit, although that is nice. What I crave is the exhilaration of losing myself in a story.

Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Joey King, Tony Cox
Rating: (PG)
5 stars (out of 5)

Oz the Great and Powerful (Rialto and Hoyts), a sort of prequel to The Wizard of Oz, offers plenty of razzmatazz to lose yourself in. We start in black-and-white in tribute to the earlier film and as befits 1905 Kansas.

Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a sideshow circus magician, dreams of greatness but knows he is only a two-bit hustler. Finding himself in trouble with the circus' strongman, he steals a hot-air balloon to escape, only to fly straight into a tornado which flings him into the land of Oz, widens the screen and puts everything in glorious Technicolor.

It is all rather lovely to look at and, as Oz meets three competing witches and learns that he is viewed as a saviour figure, it becomes increasingly intriguing.

We know he is a cad but the good people of Oz think that he is a mighty wizard come to save them from the wicked witch. Of course we know that Oz is going to mend his ways, but watching him fight it all the way is pure entertainment.

Best thing: James Franco is an engaging Oz, but Michelle Williams (as Glinda) is all sweetness and light with a backbone of steel - an impressive combination to pull off.

Worst thing: Prequels are the devil because they have no suspense. We have all seen The Wizard of Oz and we know how Oz ends up.

See it with: A yearning for a Technicolor dream and a pair of ruby red shoes.

- Christine Powley

Add a Comment

Local journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Otago Daily Times reporters and photographers continue to bring you the stories that matter. For more than 158 years our journalists have provided readers with local news you can trust. This is more important now than ever.

As advertising drops off during the pandemic, support from our readers is crucial. You can help us continue to bring you news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter