Saturday, March 9, 2013

Oz: The Great and Powerful

Casting is off, script is mediocre, 
but it's a pretty, tarnished penny

Dexter: The Great and Powerful
     If only Oz was either great or powerful and, for $200 million, the average viewer might think it could be.  $200 million won't solve the national debt, but it could be used for so many programs and governmental activities that might be cut so it's
sort of obscene that it's been wasted on this dreary two hours that I'll never get back.  Yes, I know that no one sets out to make an average or bad movie.  However, the first rule of directing any entertainment is casting.  (The first rule for directing, supervising, or chairing anything else is always the staffing.  Always).  

James Franco and Michelle Williams
     I've enjoyed James Franco since Freaks and Geeks and he was wonderful as James Dean and in 127 Hours, but he is, as Paul said, too soft in the part of the Wizard of Oz.  It needs an actor with either theatrical technique or hammy verve because the character hides his insecurities behind that persona.  Leonardo DiCaprio would have been wild, romantic, and hilarious.  He probably is considered for everything and if he was offered this, he was smart enough to turn it down.  Johnny Depp did turn it down, though it could have used the edgy obsessiveness he displayed in Sweeney Todd.  Michelle Williams just about got me through the movie, though she reminded Neil of Kathy Lee Gifford because of her look and patronizing sincerity.  Rachel Weisz's accent doesn't make 
Rachel Weisz
much sense in this context.  She's a terrific actress, but can't lose her English accent for this?  I think she did in Definitely, Maybe, but maybe this wasn't worth it for her.  

Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis more than holds her own, but I wish she'd find or create a wonderful role for herself in a smaller movie.

Floating in Bubbles to Munchkinland
     It's a beautiful movie, though it looks very computer generated unlike the charming handmade sets of The Wizard of Oz.  The other major problem is that the script is pedestrian at best.   The movie's only alive in the opening credits because they capture the vaudeville period and the black and white sequence in Kansas that sets up the conflict, though not all of the major characters, in a way that recalls, but doesn't successfully duplicate The Wizard of Oz.  The final fifteen minutes exploits the early 20th century movie special effects, but with none of the charm or wonder of Martin Scorsese's Hugo and its examination of French genius Georges Melies.  If you haven't seen that great movie (my favorite of 2011), check it out on Movies on Demand, Netflix, or Red Box - all of them cheaper than seeing this movie.

Toto and I prefer the original.  I think that's the nice way of saying "Two paws down".

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