Please don’t obliterate my childhood.
You may have gathered by now that my middle school and high school years were pretty well dominated by Buffy The Vampire Slayer, entertainment-wise, but what you likely do not know is that my earlier childhood years were consumed by the marvelous land of Oz. Yes, that partially includes the 1939 MGM musical starring Judy Garland, but much moreso it’s the original book series created by L. Frank Baum in which the ruby red slippers were silver and Dorothy only occasionally played a role in what went down.You’ve heard of the Munchkins, of course, but did you know Munchkin country was just one of four countries that comprise Oz along with the Winkie, Quadling and Gilliken, each with a corresponding color? (Munchkins = blue. Winkies = yellow. Quadlings = red. Gillikens = purple.) I bet you didn’t. But I did.
All of which is reason for me to fear that Sam Raimi’s supposedly “great and powerful” Oz movie will actually be Oz, the hackneyed and terrible.
Oz The Great And Powerful trailer
I’m not really a fan of the first three Spider-Man films (or the new one, for that matter), though I’ve admired some of Raimi’s other work. The story of the Wizard’s arrival in Oz is a good one to tackle (it’s been done in a number of books outside of the original 40-book Oz canon already), though I was expecting something a bit darker, grittier, and more realistic; something a little more reboot-y. I guess that was a mistake.
This looks pretty much exactly like Tim Burton’s awful Alice In Wonderland adaptation, which was dwarfed by its own CGI but contained almost no real imagination, nor the spirit of Lewis Carroll’s book. It also feels like it’s trying to be a Wicked adaptation (the Broadway musical, not the book), particularly in that last shot of a green hand clawing at a table. I’m on record as basically hating the Wicked musical because it was too cute and light in what actually should have been a very dark story.
For the most part, the original Oz books are not particularly dark and shouldn’t be treated as such. (Though the fairly disturbing Return To Oz gets closer to Baum’s original spirit than either The Wizard Of Oz or Wicked.) Oz The Great And Powerful is a new story with new characters, most not found in the original books, though from what I can see pretty fair divorced from anything about Oz I recognize; instead, it’s become a generic CGI fairyland. I’m also worried it will suffer from prequel-itis, like Prometheus, spending too much time making references or paying homage to the MGM movie. But you can’t remake The Wizard Of Oz, so don’t try.
The good news is that I’m a big fan of the cast — James Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, and Rachel Weisz. Pretty much a dream team, if they could only add Michael Fassbender and Meryl Streep. The Oz The Great And Powerful trailer doesn’t outrage me or give me anything specific to be upset about, I’m just bracing for it anyway. Maybe I should just optimistic and hope for the best, put my trust in a stellar ensemble and a rich setting ripe for another cinematic journey.
But if this movie sucks, you better believe I’ll do this: