Being from Kansas, it might surprise you that we get asked a lot of things. “Have you seen a tornado?” “Do you know Dorothy?” “Where is Toto?” We get asked all these things thanks to “The Wizard of Oz” and the world that L. Frank Baum created. It’s been 73 years since the first movie and this year we get a prequel to the whole thing.
We’re transported back to 1905 in Kansas where a traveling circus has set up camp. A magician by the name Oscar Diggs is a small time con man looking to be great. During his act, a little girl and her family ask Oscar to use his magic to make her walk. He immediately cuts his show short to avoid having to tell the girl that he’s unable to. Back in his trailer, a girl shows up named Annie. You quickly find out that they were an item and that since he is always on the road that another man has asked her to marry her. She wanted to ask him first what he thought and if he wanted to do anything about it. Make sure and listen to what the man’s last name is that wants to marry her. A storm moves in and he jumps in a hot air balloon and gets tossed around a tornado. Like Dorothy in her house, he gets transported to Oz.
He crash lands in a river that takes him a pond where his balloon starts to sink quickly. He gets out and meets his first witch, Theodora. She tells him the prophecy of a wizard by the same name of the land coming to rescue everyone. On their way to the Emerald City, he saves a messenger monkey named Finley. They reach the Emerald City and are greeted by everyone including another witch named Evanora. Evanora quickly finds out that Oscar is not the great and powerful wizard and convinces his to go out to kill the wicked witch to bring peace. He sets out with Finley to find the wicked witch but quickly find out that things are not what they seem.
When we went and saw the movie we did not see it in 3D because of my rule. It starts out in black and white and doesn’t fill up the entire screen. From what I’ve read, it’s exactly how they did the original. As soon as he makes his way Oz, the movie fills with color. If you have seen “The Wizard of Oz” you will notice some of the locales like the dark forest, the emerald city and the yellow brick road. Also, you are introduced to some of the witches you met in the original like Glenda played by Michelle Williams and the wicked witch. Theodora and Evanora are played by Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz who do a pretty good job at being bad, or wicked in their case.
James Franco did a good job but not a great job. It could be because of everything they had to put into this movie to connect it to the original. Having watched the original more times than I can count you will pick up on some of the stuff like I mentioned earlier. You also see hints of how other characters might be introduced like the Scarecrow and the Tin Man with statues of Lions all over the place. Did I mention you get to see how the wicked witch becomes the wicked witch? Zach Braff, who is his assistant at the start, is also the voice of Finley. They do exactly what they did in the original movie with characters from Kansas that he knew being part of the world of Oz. Glenda the good is actually the same woman from the beginning.
The movie as a whole is good but I didn’t think it was great. When the movie slows down you do notice it but when it’s on it is ON! Visually the movie looked amazing and with the nods to the original it made me feel like a kid again and to finally see how the wicked witch became the wicked was cool. I think they got some of the witches directions wrong but I could be wrong, I’m still doing some research on that. Not sure you have to see this in 3D but it was definitely good in 2D. Go see this but get there early because the line is out of control!