I have two disclaimers to make before this post goes any further.
Firstly, I LOVE anything about The Land of Oz. I’ve read the books, seen the movie, seen the Wicked show on stage (and read those books as well) – I was even in the school production*. So the idea of a prequel showing how the Great and Powerful Wizard came to be was always going to float my boat.
Secondly, I’m not a fan of James Franco. I’ve seen a few films with him in now, and quite honestly, I found I was always rooting for the other guy. I can’t decide if he’s exceptionally clever at playing the Hollywood game, or he really is a self-centered egotistical twerp. I fear it may be the latter, although I do keep giving him the benefit of the doubt. So I wasn’t thrilled to see that he was playing the lead role.
In fact, and not surprisingly to any of my friends, it wasn’t long before I was rooting for the witches, but they did have the most fantastic outfits.
On the whole, if you like Oz as much as I do, you’ll love this film. It even starts in black and white, like the original 1939 movie! One of the characters seen in this early part of the film, if you paid attention, would turn out to be Dorothy’s mother. It’s clear that Sam Raimi has carefully studied his source material and had a lot of fun turning it all on its head. Mila Kunis makes the most of her role and, I have to say, was thoroughly convincing as Theodora. Despite the tight leather trousers. Did they really have those in Oz?
Personally, I think it’s a great fun film, filling in some backstory both of the wizard but also of the witches. It could have done with a few song and dance routines, but then I would have just hated James Franco even more. However, if you have seen Wicked, please note that it is totally different to the story set out in that show – it follows the MGM original film rather more closely than Wicked does.
* I won’t say what as, because I know a number of my friends believe I was typecast, even though I’m not green.