The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies and I love the Frank L Baum books which is one of the most original and best fantasy series of all time. So I wanted to see Sam Raimi’s movie and was hoping it would at least be a decent ride.
It was. Not as good as it had the potential to be but still well worth the admission price.
The effects are stellar, the acting good. The problem with the film as I see it is the writing. While not bad, its a little too straightforward dialog wise and the characters were not as memorable as they could have been, largely because the dialog wasn’t witty or funny enough. When you watch the Wizard of Oz the dialog is full of great lines. Here, most of the lines are forgettable because they are straightforward. And the music, while the film is not a musical like the Wizard of Oz, it still could have used a more memorable score. It was provided by Danny Elfman, who can produce a good score but he’s no Harold Arlen. Few composers are, but this film would have been elevated by better music. The music here is very Danny Elfman which is kind of interchangeable with plenty of Tim Burton films like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (a movie I didn’t like).
Still, those are my only two complaints. Unlike most films this movie has a great climax that’s pretty clever. They couldn’t use elements from the Wizard of Oz because another studio owns the rights but they do a great job of staying true to the tradition and setting up the previous film as this is a prequel.
James Franco does a great job as the young conman who comes to Oz and becomes the Wizard. The witches are all handled by good actresses. I do think they were a little too straight forward but they were trying to be like the classic film. I appreciate their lack of modern winking irony but if you look at the classic there was so many clever bits of humor in the lines that was missed here. It would have taken it so far about where it is now, which is still decent entertainment. Oh, well.
I still think it’s a keeper.