Oz the Great and Powerful Screen 7 articles

Oz the Great and Powerful


Oz the Great and Powerful Poster
  • That cinema is one great smoke-and-mirrors act is a fine thesis (articulated, most recently, by Hugo with a much lighter touch), but when the images before us are so thoroughly drained of inspiration and originality, bloated with all the bland effects money can buy, but containing not one ounce of real thought and consideration, it's hard to buy such platitudes as anything but a bill of goods.

  • Can the major studios still make magic? From the looks of “Oz the Great and Powerful,” a dispiriting, infuriating jumble of big money, small ideas and ugly visuals, the answer seems to be no — unless, perhaps, the man behind the curtain is Martin Scorsese or James Cameron.

  • Sam Raimi brings the jokey, adolescent sensibility of his Drag Me to Hell to this lavish Wizard of Oz prequel, and the result is as unshapely as that premise would suggest. The special effects are imaginative and the script has some nice sentiments about the power of illusion. But Raimi seems unwilling (or perhaps unable) to take any of it seriously, racing through scenes that ought to inspire wonder or playing the material for cheap, sarcastic laughs.

  • Oz’s primary stroke of inspiration holds the film to a standard it can’t possibly meet. It was clever of Raimi to identify himself with Franco’s charlatan, and risky of him to offer up his on-screen surrogate as an object of praise. His film isn’t just a celebration of the movies; it’s a hymn to a very specific and very modern sort of tech-driven spectacle.

  • Occasionally, a touch of Raimi’s pranksterism breaks through, chiefly in the form of “China Town,” a literal dinnerware suburb where Oz comes to the aid of a fractured china doll (also the movie’s most special special effect). More often, Oztilts towards the mawkish, as the sham wizard learns the value of selflessness and an incessant Danny Elfman score tugs so shamelessly at your tear ducts that it would make the Tin Man surrender his heart on the spot.

  • Raimi has to take most of the credit for this better-than-expected entertainment: he holds a steady rhythm, avoids crude jokes and cheap shots, has the sense to cast excellent actors and steers a middle course, neither po-faced nor campy.

  • Michelle Williams... work here is little short of miraculous. There are few more difficult tasks for an actor than embodying pure goodness, which demands a peculiarly simple sort of greatness (to paraphrase a juxtaposition that also unexpectedly choked me up). I even liked Franco in this picture, and I almost never like him—for once, his preening self-consciousness works for the character.