Movie Review by Jack Silbert
With Great and Powerful comes great responsibility. Spider-man trilogy pals Sam Raimi and James Franco team up again for the daunting task of making a Wizard of Oz prequel. And of course you’re not going to match one of the Greatest Screen Achievements of All Time—you’re not only competing with the actual film itself, but with people’s nostalgic attachment to it. And a great and powerful nostalgia it is! Luckily, your kids won’t be carrying too much of that baggage as they follow the yellow-brick road. So I think they’ll have a lot of fun on this trip.
Raimi certainly tips his hat repeatedly to the original Wizard, starting the story in Kansas in black-and-white and my oh my there’s a twister on the way. But first we meet Oscar “Oz” Diggs, a traveling-circus charlatan who, down deep, really has a heart of gold. Come on, it’s the ever-charming James Franco; you can’t not like him! “I’ll see you in my dreams,” he tells left-behind good girl Michelle Williams, and we get the feeling that he probably will.
|Mila Kunis and James Franco|
Braff is actually pretty funny, but there is a Shrek-lite quality in the early going here; the movie is pleasantly entertaining but doesn’t really take off. I was also reminded of the recent Alice in Wonderland remake (which this is “from the producers of”) and couldn’t help wonder what the more inventive Tim Burton might’ve done with THIS fantasy world.
|Franco and Braff|
Raimi, meanwhile, certainly revels in the history of film. (Will kids, or even adults, really notice that the movie’s aspect ratio widens as we go from black-and-white to color?) As Diggs the would-be-wizard starts expounding on the marvels of Thomas Edison, I began to worry, “Oh no, here comes another Hugo cinema-studies lecture.” But the movie wisely focuses on showing the magic more than talking about it.
|Franco and Michelle Williams|
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