Real Talk with Ronna: Oz, magically average

“It’s a charming, feel-good family movie—and that’s all.” (Image by Flickr user “fingle” used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

By Ronna Fisher, Assistant editor

(Stop!  Don’t read this!  It probably (most definitely) contains spoilers.)

As I was getting my airplane seat kicked by a little girl who insisted on singing a made-up song mixture of  “Kumbaya” and “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,” I had plenty of time to reflect on my recent viewing of Oz the Great and Powerful.

With multiple big-name actors, great word-of-mouth reviews, and an exciting trailer, I was expecting quite a show.

As a modern prequel to The Wizard of Oz, the movie had some great expectations to meet.  However, according to IMDB, the film is based on the book series “Oz” by L. Frank Baum, not the 1939 musical.  With such well-known names as James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, and Rachel Weisz, I was expecting some top-notch acting.  Unfortunately, my expectations were too great.  I found the acting cheesy and stereotypical.  Although, part of me thinks that the dialogue and cheesy lines matched the typecast, standard characters; Glinda, the good witch has always been a little cheesy.  Perhaps the sticky-sweet dialogue is part of its charm.  Perhaps I was just tired and grumpy when I went to the movies and was therefore overly critical.

The acting had a few redeeming qualities.  Patching up the legs of China Girl was Franco’s best scene.  And, Mila Kunis played a much more believable witch than a “good witch.”  In fact, I rather enjoyed her screaming, her witch laugh, and her scary, witch antics.  And Zach Braff and newcomer Joey King’s voices for characters Flying Monkey Finley and China Girl were part of the most interesting and enjoyable parts of the film.

While the visual effects and CGI were pretty exciting and beautiful in their own right, they just weren’t enough.  Rotten Tomatoes’ tomatometer gives it a 61%, stating, “It suffers from some tonal inconsistency and a deflated sense of wonder, but Oz the Great and Powerful still packs enough visual dazzle and clever wit to be entertaining in its own right” (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/oz_the_great_and_powerful/).

That’s just it; it was an enjoyable two hours but forgettable.  It’s a charming, feel-good family movie—and that’s all.

One Rotten Tomatoes critic writes, “Oz the Great and Powerful is entirely serviceable family entertainment.  Problem is, serviceable doesn’t quite cut it when you’re talking about the magical land of Oz.”  Another states, “There were things that offered promise… but one after the other, they blended into the blandness of the storytelling.”

The movie had its charms, a few great minor characters, good visual effects, a few laughs, and Kunis’ good-turns-bad witch.  It just did not live up to the hype.

If you want to watch something memorable or touching, look elsewhere.

What do you think?