Oz The Great and Powerful

Or Oz: The Sneaky and Douchey Guy
"The land you know. The story you don't."

Hello everyone! Welcome to Tuesday at The Tagline! Over the weekend I got out to see Oz The Great and Powerful, so that's what's on reel for today. Starring James Franco in as one of the two characters he tends to be cast as (Not a stoner here, he's a scumbag) he is Oscar Diggs, known to everyone who bothers addressing him as Oz. Oz is a small-time magician and con-man at a travelling circus, but one day he is carried away in his hot air balloon by a tornado (while running from a strongman trying to murder him) and finds himself in a mysterious land (Oz) where he meets the witch Theodora (played by Mila Kunis see her also here) who believes that Oz is the wizard who has come to save the land from the wicked witch as prophesied by the last king. along their way back to the Emerald City, Oz saves Finley, a flying monkey in a bellhop's uniform (voiced by Zach Braff you know, JD from Scrubs, people still remember that right?) who swears to serve Oz, before discovering that he is a no good fraud (of course by then it's too late to back out). 

No, she couldn't possibly be evil. Absolutely not!
When they reach the city, Oz meets Evanora, Theodora's sister, who is also a witch (played by Rachel Weisz, having a much better turn here than here), and if I might say so the most obviously evil adviser to the throne since Jaffar in Aladdin. Of course, no one in the movie seems to have figured that out yet, Theodora is too busy being naive and can't see her sister is clearly evil right down to her knickers, and Oz is too busy trying to convince everyone he's the wizard so he can go totally Scrooge McDuck in the royal treasury (which he does actually it's pretty funny) Evanora tells Oz that if he wants to be king of the gold pile, he has to go to the dark forest to kill the wicked witch. So that's where he goes, with Finley in tow, though they stop in China Town (no like literally China Town) and pick up the world's saddest character, a little China doll girl who has had her legs smashed, also all her family and friends smashed (they fix her legs at least?) Basically every time this little girl talks its to say something just... absolutely heartbreaking. 

I want a Zach Braff monkey to carry MY bag everywhere!
Anyway, Oz gets to the dark forest, and of course discovers that he's been sent to kill Glinda (portrayed by Michelle Williams), who you are no doubt aware is the GOOD witch, and after some brief confusion, everyone realizes that and then stop trying to murder her. Evanora sees her plan has failed, and so naturally being the scheming wicked witch that she is, she comes up with a new plan, that involves killing them all with her army of flying bat baboons (which are in all honesty pretty damn scary, I'm glad those are not a real thing). Glinda, aware that Oz is a great big fraud, nonetheless convinces him that he might be their only hope for stopping the wicked witch. Lacking the ability to do actual magic, that could prove to be a pretty tall order though.

Get ready to feel sad... real sad.
I won't spoil the rest of the plot for you, I just wanted to establish the premise. As you probably gleaned from the fact that my exposition was about 600 words long, this movie takes a little too long to really get going. That being said, once it does get going, it is actually quite good. The visual style is very fetching, and Oz looks appropriately fantastic. I do take issue with the extremely noticeable number of times someone or something shot out at the screen in an obvious and really embarrassing attempt to be THREEE!!!DEEE!! I just know that some day in the not so distant future, just like it was the first time 3D movie gimmicks appeared, people will look back and cringe at the obtrusive 3D shots in movies. As is always the case, I chose NOT to see this movie in 3D, and I encourage everyone to do the same, in the hopes that they will stop making 3D movies and stop trying to charge me 15 dollars for a movie ticket.

Jeez Disney, this new Star Wars movie is WEIRD. But I
have to say, I'm digging how hot the Emperor is in it.
Aside from that, this movie performed well above my expectations. I wasn't really sure that I could buy into a movie about Oz, or they could make the sort of movie that would be appealing to a modern audience using the setting, but they really sold it without having to dilute or alter the original tone of Oz. I liked the inclusion of the little China town, the various peoples of Oz, the callbacks to people in Kansas that Oscar interacts with at the beginning (much as you saw in the original movie) and also in particular I liked the characterization of Glinda. While I know that yes she is the good witch, and so is all sweetness and mercy and sugarplums, I enjoyed that in this film that didn't translate her into being a simpering dope. Glinda might be good, and working to save Oz, but she isn't going to do that by being dumb, she's going to be clever, and also, while she might not kill Evanora, she will certainly shoot her out a damned window for poisoning her dad. That's a good witch I can get behind.

That's all for today! I'll see you all on Thursday!

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