We’re huge Disney fans, and after missing the chance to go and see the premiere in London while I was away on the cruise, we made sure we booked this weekend to go and see Oz the Great and Powerful.
The film stars James Franco as Oz, Mila Kunis as Theodora , Michelle Williams as Glinda the Good Witch, Rachel Weisz as Evanora, and Zach Braff as the voice of Finley the winged monkey.
Without giving away too many spoilers, the storyline is, as you’d imagine, based around the original Wizard of Oz film, but very loosely – with the Land of Oz still central to the story. Oz is a two-bit travelling magician and conman in a Kansas travelling circus but gets caught in the same kind of tornado as the original Dorothy and is whisked away to Oz, where he ends up joining forces with Glinda the Good Witch to save Oz from the clutches of the evil witch, Evanora.
I’ll be honest, it’s a slow starter. There were times when I thought ‘oh dear, is this going to be a bit lame?’, but it just gets better and better, with real edge of your seat stuff right at the end.
Visually, it’s a stunning and creative film. The Land of Oz has all the colour and wow-factor of the original, with the same shift from black and white to technicolour highlighting the incredible scene setting (reminiscent of Disney’s 2010 Alice in Wonderland in its colour and imagination). I’d heard a lot about the costumes on the Disney Blog, and wasn’t at all disappointed. The witches have the most beautiful, sparkling Swarovki crystal-studded dresses, with Glinda’s final costume being my favourite of all, with creamy layers and loads of crystals. Rachel Weisz is amazingly evil (who’d have thought?) and her green and black gown is just fabulous, with a glittering train and feathered epaulettes.
In proper Disney style, there are a few giggles along the way, many provided by Zach Braff as cheeky flying monkey Finley. We had a couple of little girls sitting near us in the cinema and it was lovely hearing them giggle at him, and also at the feisty little China Girl who was another delightful character addition to what is, essentially, a prequel to the original, if you see what I mean.
We all wished that Zach Braff had been Oz, though – Franco was quite difficult to warm to and we all thought Braff would have been perfect to play the conman with an eye for the ladies who discovers that he has a heart after all. But hey, that’s just us.
I won’t give it away, but Sam Raimi very cleverly manages to intertwine the ending of the film with the original so it all makes sense. Verdict? A film that could well become a classic, I’d wager, but give it at least the first half an hour to grow on you.