There truly is ‘no place like home’

Mina Hamblet and Mary McGrath, News Editor and Staff Writer

Seventy-four years after Dorothy hit the screen, “Oz” makes its return in the form of a prequel. This film tells the story of Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a failing magician known by his stage name

“Oz”, a sleazy self-serving man obsessed with money. One day, he escapes trouble in a hot air balloon and lands in the magical land of Oz. There he is greeted by the witch Theodora (Mila Kunis), who believes he is the wizard who will come to rule Oz,. According to the prophecy made by the late king. They travel to the Emerald City and meet Evanora (Rachel Weisz), the sister of Theodora, who tells Oz he cannot inherent the throne (and all its riches) until he kills the Wicked Witch. He reluctantly agrees and sets out on his adventure, meeting some friends along the way.

There are many allusions to original “Wizard of Oz,” including the poppy fields of sleep and the yellow brick road where the journey begins. Thanks to the technology of the 21st century, the film entirely relies on CGI for its visual effects, and for the most part its pop-out color and brightness fits in with the world of Oz, though it can sometimes be a bit too much. Recreating the world of childhood is a tall order; luckily the over-the-top scenery and CGI works for the film and helps bring Oz to life. Like its predecessor, the film begins in black and white while Oz is on Kansas, a nice touch. Some of the characters in the land of Oz are also seen in the Kansas scene as well, including Zach Braff in the form of Oz’s assistant (and the monkey Finley in the world of Oz) and Michelle Williams as Annie (better known as Glinda),  yet another element seen in the ‘39 version.

The film is also surprisingly comical, coming mostly in the form of Finley the monkey, who never fails to provide comic relief for the film. Franco fits the bill as well as Oz. Starting out as a sleazy character, Franco’s Cheshire grin works for the film and his trip down the road of redemption is enjoyable to see over the course of the film. Michelle Williams does justice to Glinda, capturing all the doe-eyed goodness of the character. Franco and Williams share many scenes, and the duo works well together throughout the film. Her character isn’t over the top and her subtle acting is just what is needed, especially with the theatricality of the two witch sisters. Out of the two, one is better actress than the other, however the film missed one mark: the terror of the Wicked Witch of the West. It’s a surprisingly weak interpretation of a role which could have been the highlight of the film.

Regardless, “Oz: the Great and Powerful” still manages to capture the charm and magic of Oz, and most of its actors leave their mark in a positive way. The clever lines add to the charming aspect, and the welcome return to Oz by moviegoers proves there truly is no place like home.