4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Oz the Great and Powerful's cheap carnival magic

Yet another prequel

James Franco, self-proclaimed Mayor of Gay Town, sets out to become the original Friend of Dorothy.
James Franco, self-proclaimed Mayor of Gay Town, sets out to become the original Friend of Dorothy.
Movie

Oz The Great and Powerful *

thumbnail

Insert sinking balloon joke here. James Franco mugs his way through director Sam Raimi’s candy-colored CGI wonderland as a carnival magician who finds himself called upon to rally the oppressed people of Oz to believe in him. Or at least, to believe in the power of their dreams? Anyway, belief is important. But the actor proves as insincere as his character, and it’s up to Michelle Williams as Glinda the Good Witch to keep things interesting as you follow the well-worn turns in the yellow brick road. (That she manages to do so without letting her sweetness turn saccharine is the real great and powerful thing here.) She gets dubious help from Zach Braff doing schtick as a flying monkey, and from Joey King as a spunky china girl who reminds the ersatz wizard not to be a cad. Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz play Glinda’s dark-haired sisters.

Find showtimes

The production notes for Oz the Great and Powerful came with a heads-up: “Please note that this movie stands alone and shouldn’t be compared to any other versions of the Oz films.” I’m fine with the second part of that sentence; I’ll leave it to the Children of Today to decide whether they prefer the CGI fakery of this story to the plywood ’n’ paint fakery of The Wizard of Oz and whether they prefer the story of a flim-flam man who stumbles into the role of heroic leader over that of a girl who just wants to get home to Auntie Em.

However, the notion that Disney would spend a reported $325 million on a property that didn’t lean heavily on its connection to the most watched film in history is patently absurd. And the absurdity is only heightened by the film itself, which is littered with callbacks to the original (There’s a lion! There’s a scarecrow! There’s Glinda in a bubble! Etc. etc.) and uses its plot to bring Oz up to the point where it’s ready for Dorothy to drop in for a visit. Oh, and the transition from black-and-white Kansas to full-color Oz? Just something they happened to think up. Nothing to do with Dorothy’s story. And if you believe that, you’re a prime candidate for Oscar Diggs’s brand of cheap carnival magic.

Diggs is played by James Franco, or rather, by James Franco’s shit-eating grin. Franco is something of a flim-flam man himself — a couple of years ago, he sold a chunk of air for $10,000 under the title of Non-Visible Art — and so director Sam Raimi may have thought he could draw on the actor’s natural strengths for the part. But the role may have been too close to home: Franco seems unaware that it takes sincere commitment to perform well, even when you’re playing a guy who is neither sincere nor committed. Especially when you’re called upon to reveal the origins of your insincerity or to finally commit to something. Even if it’s something as amorphous as the Power of Belief or the Dreams of the People.

What happens is this: Diggs (everyone calls him Oz) gets caught up in a twister and dropped into Oz. There, he is mistaken by Theodora the Good (Mila Kunis) as the great wizard whose coming was foretold by a prophecy. Theodora is hot and there’s money on the table, so Oz plays along, but his callowness and greed bring dark changes to an already shadowy kingdom. Thank goodness there’s an adorable CGI winged monkey to keep Oz company with some well-worn schtick! And a spunky China Girl to put a crack in his hard little heart!

The real saving grace here, both in terms of story and performance, is Michelle Williams as the Good Witch Glinda. To maintain her level of purity and sweetness without slipping into saccharine inhumanity is as improbable a stunt as flying in a soap bubble. But she manages both and even outshines the normally dazzling Rachel Weisz, who plays her less-magnanimous sister Evanora.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Subs off Imperial Beach, Yamamoto's killer, a kid in WWII San Diego

Tarawa, Japanese POWs, my dad's part in Hiroshima, Iwo Jima, captured in Burma
Next Article

College-Rolando Library could end up with no parking

Friendly deal with College Lutheran now in hands of Blue Falcon
James Franco, self-proclaimed Mayor of Gay Town, sets out to become the original Friend of Dorothy.
James Franco, self-proclaimed Mayor of Gay Town, sets out to become the original Friend of Dorothy.
Movie

Oz The Great and Powerful *

thumbnail

Insert sinking balloon joke here. James Franco mugs his way through director Sam Raimi’s candy-colored CGI wonderland as a carnival magician who finds himself called upon to rally the oppressed people of Oz to believe in him. Or at least, to believe in the power of their dreams? Anyway, belief is important. But the actor proves as insincere as his character, and it’s up to Michelle Williams as Glinda the Good Witch to keep things interesting as you follow the well-worn turns in the yellow brick road. (That she manages to do so without letting her sweetness turn saccharine is the real great and powerful thing here.) She gets dubious help from Zach Braff doing schtick as a flying monkey, and from Joey King as a spunky china girl who reminds the ersatz wizard not to be a cad. Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz play Glinda’s dark-haired sisters.

Find showtimes

The production notes for Oz the Great and Powerful came with a heads-up: “Please note that this movie stands alone and shouldn’t be compared to any other versions of the Oz films.” I’m fine with the second part of that sentence; I’ll leave it to the Children of Today to decide whether they prefer the CGI fakery of this story to the plywood ’n’ paint fakery of The Wizard of Oz and whether they prefer the story of a flim-flam man who stumbles into the role of heroic leader over that of a girl who just wants to get home to Auntie Em.

However, the notion that Disney would spend a reported $325 million on a property that didn’t lean heavily on its connection to the most watched film in history is patently absurd. And the absurdity is only heightened by the film itself, which is littered with callbacks to the original (There’s a lion! There’s a scarecrow! There’s Glinda in a bubble! Etc. etc.) and uses its plot to bring Oz up to the point where it’s ready for Dorothy to drop in for a visit. Oh, and the transition from black-and-white Kansas to full-color Oz? Just something they happened to think up. Nothing to do with Dorothy’s story. And if you believe that, you’re a prime candidate for Oscar Diggs’s brand of cheap carnival magic.

Diggs is played by James Franco, or rather, by James Franco’s shit-eating grin. Franco is something of a flim-flam man himself — a couple of years ago, he sold a chunk of air for $10,000 under the title of Non-Visible Art — and so director Sam Raimi may have thought he could draw on the actor’s natural strengths for the part. But the role may have been too close to home: Franco seems unaware that it takes sincere commitment to perform well, even when you’re playing a guy who is neither sincere nor committed. Especially when you’re called upon to reveal the origins of your insincerity or to finally commit to something. Even if it’s something as amorphous as the Power of Belief or the Dreams of the People.

What happens is this: Diggs (everyone calls him Oz) gets caught up in a twister and dropped into Oz. There, he is mistaken by Theodora the Good (Mila Kunis) as the great wizard whose coming was foretold by a prophecy. Theodora is hot and there’s money on the table, so Oz plays along, but his callowness and greed bring dark changes to an already shadowy kingdom. Thank goodness there’s an adorable CGI winged monkey to keep Oz company with some well-worn schtick! And a spunky China Girl to put a crack in his hard little heart!

The real saving grace here, both in terms of story and performance, is Michelle Williams as the Good Witch Glinda. To maintain her level of purity and sweetness without slipping into saccharine inhumanity is as improbable a stunt as flying in a soap bubble. But she manages both and even outshines the normally dazzling Rachel Weisz, who plays her less-magnanimous sister Evanora.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Everyone has a spot at the rail

San Diego, home of the world’s largest live bait sportfishing fleet.
Next Article

Triangle-shaped in Solana Beach

The “manicured grounds” add a pop of color to an exterior that’s otherwise black, white
Comments
1

I wonder if the studio will say, in the sequel, not to mention any sequels!

March 23, 2013

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close