"How hard can it be to kill a Wicked Witch?"
I was one of the seven people at the 3:45 pm showing of Oz the Great and Powerful last Friday. I hoped I'd be all by myself; in the last couple of months I have, a couple of times, come very close to attending a private screening, but unfortunately that luxury is still waiting to happen. I bet the cinema staff knows me as the poor lonely girl who goes to unpopular matinees all by herself. Haha.
I had no great (or powerful) expectations towards the movie, but I like the stories about Oz and I like Kansas and there's Mila Kunis, so I decided I'd go see it. And, yes, all the Wizard of Oz references were awesome, I loved how much good old Kansas sucked, and Mila Kunis and her character were pretty much the best thing about the whole thing. On the other hand, it was pretty Disney (in both good and bad ways, mostly bad), and it relied far too much on CGI and bright colors and fancy, made-up creatures. And even though I love all that, from bright colors to Disney (even bad Disney), you need more than that for a movie to be great. They won't be still watching and making origin story prequels to this one in seventy years...
The thing about prequels is that it's pretty much impossible to live up to the original. There is no true suspense because we know how things will turn out in the end, more or less. The climax is not truly satisfying, because it's not a happy end, it's a happy middle, and we know that in a few decades all hell will break loose again, and that's when the real hero arrives and saves the day for real. This Oscar person has got nothing on Dorothy: she killed two Wicked Witches, while he kind of just created one. Granted, he does own some nice machines that make pretty illusions.
The acting was somehow really awkward, or at least a bit strange, but then again, maybe it was supposed to be. I definitely got a very strong Wizard of Oz vibe every now and then, so maybe the acting wasn't bad, maybe it was just somewhat weird to see all these famous, modern (and great!) actors like James Franco and Michelle Williams go all 1930s. I don't know.
What I did love about the movie was the feeling of good old nostalgia. It's not that I am completely entitled to feel huge amounts of nostalgia about a film I have seen only twice in my life, both times within a few years, but you know me. I have nostalgia for dinner. The transition from black and white to rich, bright colors was expected, but still very cool. I was hoping they had included a change from 2D to 3D to the transition as well, because that would've added greatly to the effect, but I guess the Kansas part was too lengthy, and if it had been all 2D, they couldn't have charged the whole 3D extra for the tickets. Hah.
I also liked that the China girl was from Chinatown. I liked the Munchkin song. I liked the Yellow Brick Road and the poppy field and the lion, and the flying monkeys that were so scary I felt sorry the kids, and myself. I liked that a villain got a backstory, proving that everything is evil for a reason. I love when they do that. I liked the fireworks and Oz's final trick gave me goosebumps. I wanted to see some ruby slippers, and was a bit disappointed when I didn't.
Oz the Great and Powerful is essentially a Disney adventure, and we have to take all the good and bad things that come with that. At least the lion is far less annoying in this one, compared to the original.
"Kansas is full of good men. I don't want to be a good man. I want to be a great one."
(Nah. You just go stand behind your curtain, while we go back to 1939 to see someone save Oz for real.)