It came around every spring, and -- after Christmas, my birthday, and the last day of school -- it was my most anticipated event of the year. My parents couldn't afford a color T.V. set, so we'd troop over to a friend's house to witness that glorious moment when Dorothy opens the door to a vibrantly technicolor fantasy world.
Just typing those last two paragraphs makes me feel like a freaking fossil. :-) As does my children's bemused reaction to my lifelong adoration for this movie. Not to mention my delight in the scene where Dorothy arrives in Munchkin Land. My oldest summed it up best: "Check out that set! It looks like she crash landed in a Michael's craft store!"
Huh. Well, yes, I suppose it does. But it's still splendid. And cut them a break ... CGI effects weren't yet invented, and there was a Depression on.
My love for that movie was surpassed only by my discovery, around age 6, of the novel from which it came, along with its many sequels. It was the first time I fell wholly, deliriously in love with a series of books. I spent hours reveling in the words and illustrations and poring over the maps of L. Frank Baum's fantasy world. It was around this time that the public library became my house of worship. It also turned me on to the concept of fantasy and science fiction. And that, folks, is how a confirmed bibliophile and lifelong geek is born.
Needless to say, it was a foregone conclusion that, as long as the makers of Oz the Great and Powerful didn't spectacularly bugger up this project, I was an easy sell for this film. A homage to the original film, with occasional touches of the series of novels, this movie serves as a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. It shows how "Oz the Great and Terrible" found his way to the Land of Oz and the genesis of the Wicked Witch of the West.
After reading mixed reviews, I went into this movie with modest expectations. So I was pleasantly surprised that I found it delightful.
I'm not up to writing an actual review, so I'll cut to the chase (warning: mild spoilers):
What I Liked:
- The film was reminiscent of the original movie. Nostalgic black-and-white scenes morph into somewhat garish technicolor when "the wizard" lands in Oz. The sets are lush, overblown, and colorful -- evoking a craft store rather than modern CGI creations. :-) Actors from Kansas reappear in Oz, just as in the old movie. And the acting is fittingly cheesy but charismatic and engaging.
- A hammy performance by James Franco -- blown away from a life of carnival chicanery into a world were he will reign as Oz the Great and Terrible -- complete with Franco's trademark grin. The only thing I didn't like was those weird, awkward smiles. What was up with that?
- The look in his eyes, in the ending scene, when he finally offers his love to his lady.
- The creepy clown, at the Kansas carnival, swigging from a flask. Don't ask me why.
- Although I'm pretty much a solid zero on the Kinsey scale, I've gotta admit ... Mila Kunis with huge, innocent eyes and contrasting tight leather pants? Rachel Weisz in an emerald-green sequined gown? Pretty hot.
- Flying baboons!! Need I say more?
- The china doll. Cool special effects there yet quaint and genuinely child-like. One member of my tribe thought she was annoying, but I really liked her.
- The munchkins coming in as titans then breaking into a song and dance. It almost got me over my disappointment at their not reprising The Lollipop Guild.
- Occasional references to things found in the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz but not in the movie adaptation. The Quadlings. The Winkies. The good witch's protective kiss. (Even though it was the wrong good witch. Oh, well.) I really wish they had done more of that in this film. And why do they always exclude the Good Witch of the North in the movies? I'm just sayin'
- "Prestidigitation"is word that doesn't get nearly enough use in conversation. Love it. Even Better:
- The quaint moving picture machine introduced at the beginning. Oz's primitive special effects. Showmanship and sleight of hand as a form of magic. A fitting tribute to the early film industry. Best of All:
- Trisha laughing out loud in delight when Oz was reborn in a burst of smoke. I think we got to create a new childhood cinematic memory today. Priceless!
Lots of Blogger Links to Share:
- Michelle at That's What She Read convinced me to read The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne.
- Adam at Roofbeam Reader discussed A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf.
- Courtney at On the Screen shared her 10 favorite dance scenes in movies.
- Griff at 3 Guys 1 Movie reviewed A Short Film About Killing by Krzysztof Kielslowski.
- Josh at The Cinematic Spectacle shared his Ultimate Oscar Ballot.
- Margaret at Cinematic Corner blogged about her favorite scenes from Game of Thrones. Reading it is pure pleasure!
- Jessica at The Velvet Cafe wrote a thought-provoking post on the portrayal of gender in movies.
- Nikki at Foil the Plot posted her list of most disturbing films.
- Alex at And So It Begins discussed David Lynch and his masterpiece Mulholland Drive.
- Ruth at Flix Chatter created an interesting, thoughtful post on why so few Asian directors thrive in Hollywood.