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Wiz of A Wiz!

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Oz The Great and Powerful

When someone asks, "Are you the Wizard?", you say Yes! The new prequel spin on the classic: The Wizard of Oz takes us on an exciting crusade with gull and clever tactics as we discover how he became a wiz of a Wiz.

Writers, David Lindsay-Abaire and Mitchell Kapner, do a charming job, with keeping this new prequel carefully aligned with the original Oz. Aside from the given characters and set that would need to stay true to tie the two films together, they make other similar choices from The Wizard of Oz. Both films start off in the ordinary, black and white, Mid-West and advance to the magical, colorful and beautiful land of Oz. Like Dorothy, Oscar also helps a few oddly familiar individuals that he meets along his journey, that turn out inevitably, to be loyal companions. And, if you've ever wondered, Oz, The Great and Powerful answers these questions: How did the Scarecrow come to be? Where did the Tin Man come from? How did the Lion get to be cowardly? And, how did the Wizard of Oz first arrive in Oz?

Speaking of the Wizard, when you're good you're good. James Franco is wonderful with the things he does as Oz. Because! Because! Because! Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs, "Oz" for short, starts out as a deceptive sideshow magician who never met a pretty face he couldn't sweet talk. His quest to be great, however, takes a colorful upgrade when he's swept into one of Kansas' apparently frequent twisters. Since the original Wizard, that starred Frank Morgan, was a shorter role and wasn't as developed, Franco's choices smoothly blend in new layers that bind well with the original. Specifically, Franco's deeply etched smile, that appears across his face with every white lie he tells, is absolutely hilarious and so exaggerated that it's almost humanoid. His performance is solid and credible divulging what it takes to be great.

Disproportionately the beautiful Mila Kunis, who portrayed Theodora, the wicked witch of the west, gave a mediocre portrayal of the mean, green antagonist. Mila, who's widely known for bringing sass and flare to her roles, did not seem connected to her slighted character. It is quite possible however, that her lacking portrayal stemmed from her makeup and prosthetics that were reported to demand four hours to apply, another hour to remove, and furthermore damaged Kunis' skin to the degree that it took nearly two months for it to recover (according to Wikipedia). But at the end day, as an audience, we expect to hate or at least strongly dislike the evil, broom-flying villain, who's goal is to kill the Wizard and any innocent bystanders in her way.

Tony Cox, who played Knuck, the disgruntled Emerald City guard, and Zach Braff who starred as Frank and Finley, the assistant and the jovial flying monkey, both delivered clever and noteworthy family friendly humor.

As the youngest supporting actress in this movie, Miss Joey King, portrays real depth as China Girl and Wheelchair Girl giving one the best performances within the cast. Her commitment will make you laugh and almost cry. Adding to China Girl's spellbinding personality is her remarkable animation that looks so believable, that if you didn't already know China dolls weren't real, you wouldn't discover it from this film. Be sure to look out for her fluid movements that can easily be overlooked.

However, there are reasons why classics aren't born everyday. For starters, The Wizard of Oz, one of the most famous movies of all time, was released in 1939 when the concept of a Technicolor film was fresh and new. So, even with the level of today's cinematography, animation, special effects, and 3D technology, it doesn't even come close to the wow factor of reinventing the "color-wheel". That isn't to say however, that Oz, the Great and Powerful doesn't do a lovely job with its cinematography, brilliant bold cascading rainbows, and design. Also, with Oz's lineup of enchanting and enjoyable cast members, they still aren't comparable to the Wicked Witch of the West, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion's degree of raising the bar that added to the classic's magic.

Overall, Oz, the Great and Powerful blends well with the original Wizard of Oz and adds to "There's no place like home" with To be great, first you have to be good!
Does Oz have the makings to be a classic? No! However, is it an entertainingly good film that leaves you with a wonderful warm feeling? Absolutely! It's a fantastic film for adults and kids alike!

From the WhatToSeePG blog, I give it 4 out of 5 Skittles. See the children's blog on this or other family friendly movies: