Synopsis: A Kansas conman (James Franco, 127 Hours) is transported to the wonderful Land of Oz, in Disney’s interpretation of L. Frank Baum classic children’s stories. There he encounters the wierd and wonderful, as well as the good and the wicked.
Oz, the Not Bad, but Not Great.
As the beginning credits whirled by in an animated cavalcade, my hopes were raised. Even though I was viewing in 2D, the opening sequence certainly had 3D qualities. To add my enjoyment the film also starts in black and white. This gave it an authenticity in-keeping with 1939 spectacular The Wizard of Oz, which heralded the dawn of Technicolor. In fact, there was plenty about Sam Raimi’s version which kept true to the original film, including places such as The Dark Forest and the poppy field. However, this film relied heavily on CGI. From the moment Oz dips his toe in colour it becomes all about the 3D.
Smoke and Mirrors
I really wanted to like this movie, and I did enjoy it. But because it caters more to a 3D audience, in the 2D screening I became aware of the special effects. They really weren’t the best. There were times when the panning was so quick that everything was just a blur. It makes me wonder: why bother showing it in 2D at all? When something promises spectacle, then it had better bring it on, in all dimensions. It was obvious that he actors were clearly working hard against a green screen, mainly from the rough outlines around their bodies.
Like Some Ham with your Cheese?
Now, please understand, I wasn’t expecting Oscar winning performances. But Wow! Rachel Wiez (The Mummy) and Mila Kunis (Ted) ham it up in a performance worthy of hanging in a butcher’s. Franco is very much the dashing rogue, while Michelle Williams is all eyes and smiles as Glinda the Good. The Ham – and there was a lot of it - was a little uncomfortable at times, so I had to do away with my good sense and just go along with it for the ride. And I can handle a little cheese, especially when Evil Dead star and Sam Raimi favourite Bruce Campbell, cameos.
In all, it’s a good family film, if you don’t get too bogged down about the CGI, or the acting. There are some lovable, quirky characters, and it’s full of fun and light-hearted fairy tale. It’s far more likely to be enjoyable in 3D, but whether that makes it more a successful or not remains to be seen.