This is my fourth movie of the year. I have enjoyed each of those four movies (even Hansel and Gretel), but each of them has flaws. Before Oz, my ranking was Jack, Beautiful Creatures, Hansel and Gretel, but the top two could easily have been the other way around. Throwing Oz into the mix, I could easily end up with the top three in any order. In other words, Oz is not the clear leader I was expecting it to be.
Oz uses the same visual gimmick as the 1939 movie – the pre-Oz opening scenes are in black and white – but otherwise has relatively little in common with that film. It’s based on the same general source, but does not appear to be a direct prequel. Certainly if they meant it to be then they omitted a few key plot points.
The highlights of this film are largely visual. The transition sequence was beautifully done. The colors and landscapes of Oz were fantastic and fantastical. The costumes and hairstyling were distinctively bizarre, presumably in reference to the 1939 film.
The plot was honestly pretty weak. It’s better than the plot of the 1939 film – and before you bitch at me, go back and watch it. I did, last night after I got back from the theater. It has problems. Still a great movie, but with massive plot holes. Anyway, the plot of this Oz was contrived and largely superficial.
The biggest problem, though is that the main character is pretty thoroughly unlikable, and another major character is pretty thoroughly unbelievable. Oz is supposed to be flawed – it's a redemption story, kinda. Franco does a good job being slimy and charming, but it’s a repugnant charm, if that makes sense. He’s hard to root for, and that makes the movie hard to enjoy. The other character I can't say much about without spoilers, but I was not convinced by the choices made. Requiring a character to be that stupidly naive in order to make the plot work is not good storytelling.
Despite all that negativity, I enjoyed this movie. I saw it in 3D, and the 3D was good. It was very in-your-face at time, which normally I don’t care for, but it worked for this, for me.
…you know, I think this movie would have been better if they made it a musical… nah, probably not.
Ultimately, I’m ranking Oz in 3rd because it does not have the witty dialogue that both Jack and Beautiful Creatures had, and because it’s less clever. It’s easily the prettiest movie so far, though.
1. Jack the Giant Slayer
2. Beautiful Creatures
3. Oz the Great and Powerful
4. Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters