A "Wizard Of Oz" prequel that had me thinking , "there’s no place like home". And my bed . It put me to sleep.
James Franco is no Johnny Depp or Robert Downey Jr., the first two choices to play Oz. Either one would have made this a stronger film but I don’t think even those two acting greats could save this mess. This 2-plus-hour film is an epic. An epic bore. It’s too long and too short where it counts: the story.
The film begins in a black-and-white Kansas , where Franco is a greedy, self-centered, womanizing small-time circus charlatan magician who takes off in a hot air balloon to escape a strongman only to be swept into a tornado, which wisks him away to Oz. The locals all think he’s part of a prophecy: the man who will save them from a pair of evil witches (deliciously played by Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis). Michelle Williams is the sweeter than sugar good witch, Glinda. Zach Braff provides the only real humor as Oz’s tag-along flying monkey. Instead of the lion, scarecrow and tinman, Oz’s other traveling companion is a porcelain doll.
Directed by “Spider-Man” franchise helmer Sam Raimi, every scene seems to overstay its welcome. Even the climax, which is an homage to early Hollywood magic, is drawn out. As for the digitized landscapes: despite their radiant color, they, too, fall short of the original. Loved the costuming, I have to say.
Thanks to the Warner copyright with the original, Oz is not what we remember: the munchkins barely show up and the trademarks in the original are missing : from the yellow brick road to the field of poppies.
What this movie really lacks is heart, emotion and charm, the mainstays of “The Wizard Of Oz”. That’s a movie you can watch and over again. I barely got through this film. Seriously, I was nodding off. Oz himself is so unlikable, it’s hard to care what happens to him. Since he’s the central character, that kind of says it all.