(Note: This review has spoilers near the end. I will announce spoilers are coming before I get to them)
On March 8th, Oz the Great and Powerful hit movie theaters. If you’re like me, you’ve been excited for this one since you first heard about it last year. After seeing it last night, I walked away disappointed. This morning, after thinking it over, I want to let you all know why I didn’t like it and see if anyone else agrees.
Oz The Great And Powerful
Oz The Great and Powerful follows Oscar Diggs, aka Oz, a clever but selfish circus magician who swindles his crowds with claims of true, powerful magic but when asked to actually help someone, he runs and hides. Oh, and he’s a womanizer who tricks pretty girls into being a part of his act (and falling hard for him) before he tosses them to the curb.
Oz has to run for his life in a hot air balloon after a girl’s husband finds out that Oz wooed her. Thank to the magic of tornadoes, he ends up in The Land of Oz where he’s quickly proclaimed to be the great wizard who will defeat the wicked witch and lead the people into a future of peace and joy.
I had 3 major issues with this movie. The first two aren’t spoilers, so keep reading if you’re curious.
While the story itself made sense, it wasn’t written well. Instead of a story that takes specific steps from one event to the next, Oz is thrown from place to place for no reason. Once he gets there, his motivations are ambiguous at best. At no point is something on the line. At no point does Oz really seem to be in any real danger. It’s a magical world after all and stuff just happens to move him from one plot point to the next.
This may be the biggest blow to the film. There is no richness to any of the characters. And short of Glinda the Good Witch (played by Michelle Williams), the actors phone it in (though, a few do the best they can with a lousy script).
None of the characters really develop. All their emotions are told to us. “I am really upset”, “I am really scared”, “I am at the end of my rope.” Everyone says what they are feeling and no one shows it.
In addition, several of the character motivations and personalities change from scene to scene. The only person who doesn’t change is Oz, the character who’s suppose to grow because of his experience! Which leads me to the main reason I walked away from this film disappointed…
Oscar Diggs (aka Oz)
Warning, this part contains spoilers.
After Oz makes his way into the Land of Oz, he quickly meets Theodora the Witch (Mila Kunis). Like the women of Kansas, he quickly woos her with a gift (no one’s ever given her a gift before) and asks her to dance (something she’s never done). The people of Oz are afraid of witches and so she’s never really been shown kindness or interest. Add to the fact that he saves her life when they first meet and the girl falls hard for him. It’s even insinuated that they sleep together (something else I’m sure she hadn’t done before).
Later in the film, he blows her off for Glinda, the pain giving her a mental break down that ultimately leads (spoilers) to her becoming the Wicked Witch of the West. She turns from a sweet girl into the most cold hearted woman in Oz.
And what does the great wizard do to rectify this situation? Does he feel remorse? Does he attempt to redeem her? Does his personality change in any real way? No. He makes out with Glinda and tells Theodora, “You can come back if you decide you don’t want to kill the people of Oz anymore”.
He’s a scoundrel who never becomes a hero. He’s a manipulator who never sees Justice. He’s a fake who never becomes real. And worst of all, he abuses an innocent woman.
There are a few really good moments in this movie. The first scenes between Oz and Theodora where he’s wooing her are very good. There are great scenes near the end where Oz is becoming The Wizard of Oz that is exciting and cool. Many of his interactions with Glinda are well done. There’s a good movie hanging around the edges of this one. Unfortunately, these brief moments don’t make up for a forced plot, bad characters, and an Oz the Great who isn’t great at all.
I wouldn’t recommend this for adults who enjoy these types of movies, and because of the character of Oz, I wouldn’t recommend taking children to see this either. He’s not a fool who becomes a hero, he’s a scoundrel who wins for some reason.
2 out of 5 stars.