Before you go into Oz The Great and Powerful, allow me to make a statement that will allow you to enjoy the experience more. Do NOT expect The Wizard of Oz here. Yes, it takes place in Oz, but you can't honestly tell me that you were expecting this movie to be anywhere near as good as the 1939 classic. If you are, you're kidding yourself, and you don't deserve to go.
Oz is an origin story for the wizard (James Franco), not everyone's favorite blue gingham dressed gal. Oz, a small-time traveling magician, is whisked away in a hot air balloon by a tornado (hmmmm...). and he soon finds himself in the Technicolor world of Oz. Soon after, he meets Theodora (Mila Kunis) a good witch, who tells him that the people of Oz have been anxiously awaiting his arrival. A prophecy told of Oz's arrival and of his defeat of the oppressive Wicked Witch.
Along the way, we meet Theodora's sister, Evanora (a delicious Rachel Weisz), and Michelle Williams appears as Glinda. Oz sets his eyes on the treasure of The Emerald City, but he can only get his hands on it after defeating Margaret Hamilton The Wicked Witch. Everyone in Oz is counting on The Wizard to save the day, and that might be a problem considering that Oz is a simple magician.
I thought I would hate this movie. I was hesitant, because I thought it was going to be similar to Tim Burton's shitfest Alice in Wonderland. Even though the visual effects don't overwhelm the story totally, there is a lot of James Franco acting in front of a green screen. In a post-Avatar world, I am sure that the majority of the production design was made up with visual flair, but I am curious to see what was practical set. Unlike Wonderland, if this was completely done the CGI route, it wouldn't bother me. I loved the sets and costumes.
Location, location, location.
There are things that don't work, however. James Franco is being thrown under the bus by a lot of people that don't like the movie. I think he was fine, but I could see how people wouldn't be a fan of him in this role. Every time he gave a wicked little grin, I wondered if he toked up before shooting that particular scene. James Marsden might have been a better choice for the role. Also, the creation of the Wicked Witch is a little slight, if you ask me. This ain't Wicked.
Mila Kunis...is not my favorite actress. She can only play a certain kind of character, and she can't pull off Theodora's initial innocence. Kunis is good when she has to be dark and sexy (Black Swan) or when she has to be a guy's girl (Ted). Sorry, Meg Griffin, you're limited. Anyone ever see Date Night? Kunis has a cameo as the trashy wife to James Franco (not James Marsden), and I feel like her character (picture above) is who she really is in real life.
You should check out Oz The Great and Powerful because it is a colorful, vibrant movie, and you will get a kick out of travelling back in a hot air balloon to a land that you love. When was the last time that you got to experience Oz on the big screen? The characters are fun, and the movie does a good job of winking at lovers of the original. Look out for The Cowardly Lion and references to Dorothy's family. If you give it a chance, it might surprise you.