Oz the Great & Powerful - meh...

I don't do movie review type things here, but I just can't not say something about this movie. I watched it with my kids, who are 11, and a 7 year old friend. Two girls and a boy. We'd all been looking forward to it; the kids maybe more for the magical fairytale than the James Franco eye-candy that I was hoping for. It started out so well, with the evocative black & white opening scenes, the great attention to detail and James Franco prestidigitating all over the place. We were excited. And then he landed in Oz, and it all went downhill from there. Poor CG and unimaginative sets made the whole thing suddenly look cheap, and James was frankly not at his best. These, I could have lived with. When you've been forced to watch Space Buddies (a film which features some really irritating talking dogs), you can put up with quite a lot. But then our first major female character, Theodora, entered the scene... Theodora begins the movie as the innocent and naive younger sister. She's also needy, clingy and apparently just not very bright. How dumb do you have to be to not notice that your older sister, who you live with, is the Wicked Witch and keeps an army of crazed winged baboons? Where she keeps them is anyone's guess, but I'd think they'd be noticeable, wouldn't you?

Next up we meet the big sister, who has a name but I can't remember it, because for an evil witch she's pretty unmemorable. She, of course, is the femme fatale to contrast with Theodora's wide-eyed clingy girlfriend. And she is wicked. Apparently. I mean, it's obvious she's not very nice, but it's equally obvious she has no plan, and is not really on top of this evil thing. She's shocked by her sister's later craziness. She wants to be the queen of Oz. She wants to be powerful. This, as far as I can tell, is her entire motivation and the reason she is evil. James Franco wants the same thing, but he gets to be the good guy. See there? Woman wants power therefore is evil. Man wants power therefore is the hero. What?
And then there's Glinda. Who we know as soon as we see her is good because she doesn't have long manicured nails, doesn't wear lots of dramatic make-up and is, of course, blonde.

So let's review:
Wicked witches: Brunette, dramatic make-up, long nails, wearing red or emerald green, with some black for flair. Either clingy and demanding (seriously, Theodora decides within minutes of meeting Oz that he will be king and she will be his queen and they will live happily ever after) or man-hating and cold.
Good witch: Blonde, 'natural' make-up, wears white. Apparently a strong leader, but doesn't really do anything leaderlike except convincing Oz that he's their only hope. Even though she's magic and he's just a con-artist who doesn't come off very bright either. She was completely unable to do anything to save the people from the Wicked Witch, or even convince everyone that *she* isn't the wicked one, until Oz came along. Really, not a single thing. Magic not cracking up so well there.
All witches (actually, pretty much all women in the movie): Fall immediately madly in love with Oz and then either go completely bonkers and transform into murderous crones or become essentially his nursemaid because his ego needs a lot of boosting in order for him to do anything useful.

Oh, let's not forget the tiny china girl. She's tough and brave but, you know, she's made of china. You have to be really careful when you hug her in case you break her.

Yeah. So you get the picture. Female role models, not so much. Male role model? Not really. The storyline is weak, but good scriptwriting could have given it some oomph. Little more thinking about the characters would have been good too. I know it's a fantasy story, and I know it's based on books written at a time when female characters were pretty much stock, but that's no excuse. I came away just thinking that they'd been lazy: lazy scripting, lazy design, lazy acting. All of which added up to a big fat disappointment, for both me and my kids.

1 comment:

  1. Solid review. Some parts are really slow, the story might be just a tad predictable and some visuals looked off, but I still enjoyed the movie for what is was.