Neither Wonderful Nor Wicked Enough…

… but not as awful as the more atrocious reviews and commentary would have one believe. ‘Oz – The Great and Powerful’ – a new telling of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ story focusing on the Wizard and how he came to be ‘The Wizard’ as well as how the witches related before Dorothy arrived – was actually a visually-arresting, but not entirely spellbinding event movie. I have yet to see a Sam Raimi film I loved enough to see again (not even the oft-lauded ‘Spiderman’) and this was par for that plodding course.

I’d say at least 45 minutes could have been judiciously excised (there is no need for munchkins to sing except in the original film version – their song and dance routine stopped this movie completely for me) and as much as I love Mila Kunis, (spoilerish bit straight ahead…), she did not translate well to the Wicked Witch of the West. As integral and indelible as that character has become (thanks to the movie, the musical, and Gregory Maguire’s masterful novel ‘Wicked’), the Disney version is just that – too Disney and white-washed, when what we need is a green terror.

The screechy, cackling, and fire-ball-hurling temper was wholly lacking in any tangible bit of the terrifying, perhaps because of the nearly-humanless CGI-heavy form she inhabits after her transformation. It’s an odd choice, given that the story tips on the ingenuity and resourcefulness of humans and our ability to conjure illusions so convincingly. Raimi would have done better to take note of his own lesson.

As it stands, it’s a nice, if slow at-times, re-imagining of that well-tread yellow-brick road, even if it ultimately rings hollow. But nice, as Stephen Sondheim once noted, is different than good.

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