Went to see Oz the Great and Powerful today. The story is how Oscar Diggs, (who bills himself as Oz the Great and Powerful, a carnival magician in 1905 Kansas,) finds himself in a balloon and ultimately in a strange and beautiful land.
Since this is a review, I’ll be careful not to mention spoilers, but I would like to say that Oz’s character arc is believable. (The character arc is defined: Characters begin the story with a certain viewpoint and, through events in the story, that viewpoint changes. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_arc.) I like it when characters evolve in a natural way, without intrusive contriving from the author. Just as an example—The Avengers. LOVE the movie, but how did the Hulk go from an out-of-control bashing machine who needed a containment room on board that very cool flying laboratory, to a very in-control team player? Hmm?
But back to Oz. Can’t say I’m much of a fan of James Franco, but he did a passable job as a conman. IMDb mentions in their trivia section that both Robert Downey, Jr. and Johnny Depp had been asked to do that role. Upon reflection, I think either of them would have been too good. Both actors are very comfortable playing it over the top.
Oz, however, starts out as a carnival performer who, as his character, tries to play it over the top. Think cartoon magician versus David Blaine. The small-in-stature Franco isn’t very convincing as he waves his arms, tries to bellow in a deep voice, and dramatizes his prestidigitation, at which he is fairly good considering the era. This inadequacy, as it turns out, is a good thing when he hits his peak in the character arc.
There were other parts of the movie that I thought went a tad slow, some were overacted by someone other than Franco, (I’ll leave that up to you to figure out who I’m talking about. It might be just me. Oh, and my husband who mentioned it during dinner at Qdoba’s after the movie.)
Overall, I highly recommend Oz the Great and Powerful , and if you can, see it in 3D. If you have little ones who frighten easily, you might want to see it yourself first. There are some moments when you have a fierce, ugly beings suddenly thrust in your face. I loved the prequel aspect and the way Oscar Diggs becomes the Wizard.
I give Oz the Great and Powerful 4 out of 5 stars.