If you take a bit of Alice in Wonderland and throw in a little bit of Charlie and the Chocolate factory, you might end up with something like Oz. As you may know, the movie is a prequel of The Wizard of Oz, and follows the adventures of Oscar Diggs, as he encounters the various fantastical denizens of Oz, before eventually becoming the aforementioned Wizard.
After watching the trailer for the movie, I couldn’t wait to see it. Just the one shot of the sepia tinged 4:3 aspect ratio slowly expanding to widescreen while vivid colour seeped in was enough to get me on the edge of my seat, wanting to queue up for the movie there and then, and when I did finally get to see the movie, that scene did not disappoint. In fact the eye catching visuals are the strongest aspect of the movie, the colours popping out of the screen aided by some 3D wizardry.
Unfortunately the rest of the movie leaves a lot to be desired. While the scenes set in the real world do a good job of laying the foundation of the story, and the initial foray into Oz does offer promise of a great story to come, that promise is never actually fulfilled. There were parts of the movie that just seemed to drag, and when the Wicked Witch finally did make her appearance, the performance was so over the top and the makeup was so ridiculous that it was all I could do to stifle a laugh. The rest of the ensemble do their best to make their parts work, but fail to really energise the scenes that they are in. James Franco’s strange choices of facial expressions didn’t really help matters, and made me wonder if he was purposely not taking his part seriously.
There are a few humorous moments when Zach Braff as a CG monkey sidekick, interacts with James Franco’s Oz, but other than that I was left wanting the movie to end. Even the technical magic creating the China Girl was a bit of hit and miss, one minute making you believe that the miniscule character was real, the next minute so jarringly fake that you had to wonder if this was the product of a high-school project.
I would save your money folks and watch this one on DVD. There were a few good bits in the movie so with that in mind I will give Oz 6/10.