Sam Raimi creates new classic with ‘Oz’


THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN: James Franco breathes new life into the old version of who the Wizard is in “Oz.”

Taline Markarian, Staff Writer

Many filmmakers have tried to re-pave the yellow brick road back into Oz, but nothing has compared to the 1939 film about Dorothy and her friends–until now.

Nearly 75 years later, Sam Raimi (“Drag Me to Hell,” 2009) attempts to be the first director to come close to equaling the famed classic.

“Oz: The Great and Powerful” is a magical, fun and wild ride, and Raimi’s direction makes viewers feel as though they’re in the middle of it all.

And unlike the original film, the audience is introduced to the story behind the Wizard that Dorothy meets in the original story.

In this prequel, the Wizard, Oscar “Oz” Diggs, lives in Kansas as a magician, a con artist and a ladies’ man. When the tornado pulls him into the Land of Oz, his outlook on life and morality begins to change. For the first time, he begins to truly care about others.

Many would expect a simple adventure film, but by seeing the Land of Oz through the eyes of the sarcastic, witty Wizard, the audience is treated to healthy doses of comedy.

The two-hour adventure puts an interesting twist on parts of the story. For example, there’s a place called Chinatown, where all the buildings and people are made of fine china.

Besides the imaginative characters and settings, the production values are highly original. There are many point of view shots, where the audience sees through the eyes of the Wizard. These shots bring this wondrous place to life and they give us a chance to join the Wizard on his journey.

The special effects and 3-D also help bring childhood fantasies to reality. The special effects make a china doll almost real enough to reach out and touch. The fight between the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda makes the viewer feel like theyre in the corner of the room.

A visually stunning scene occurs when Oz arrives in his hot air balloon and the film transforms from a black and white picture into brilliant color.

Audience’s eyes are in for a treat when Oz enters a massive treasure room in the vibrant Emerald City.

The visuals, characters and costumes are extraordinary, but one of the acting performances is disappointing.

Mila Kunis (“Ted,” 2012) seems forced and unnatural as Theodora, pulling audiences out of the fantasy and into the movie theater. However, the rest of cast is flawless depicting the Wizard’s arrival to Oz.

James Franco, Michelle Williams, and Rachel Weisz played their parts incredibly. It was as if they left their stardom behind and became permanent residence of OZ.

Screenwriter Mitchell Kapner’s take on L. Frank Baum’s original story paves the way for new characters, and he makes several clever spins on the old ones. For example, the flying monkeys are good and the evil witches’ minions are flying baboons.

Though there are some changes to the Land of Oz, like the flying monkeys, Raimi, who is most known for the “Evil Dead” trilogy, sticks to the basic structure of the original movie. The audience is guaranteed to see the yellow brick road, the munchkins, the scarecrows, and above all the green wicked witch of the west.

The difference, though, is that Raimi puts some fear into the audience by creating two sadistic and evil witches who try their best to tear apart Oz.

The creativity and detail in Disney’s $200 million film takes the simple characters from the “Wizard of Oz” and remakes them, creating a new classic.