PG, 130 min.
Director: Sam Raimi
Writers: Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay Abaire, L. Frank Baum (“Oz” works)
Starring: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff, Bill Cobbs, Joey King, Tony Cox
It’s funny how movies will succeed and fail in the same moment. “Oz the Great and Powerful” shared amazing success at the box office and surprising backlash and disappointment critically when it was released in March of 2013. It was accused of being a visual extravaganza, which it was, but why didn’t critics see that’s not all it was?
I gave the movie a glowing review but felt all alone in the endeavor. Often when that is the case, I find later that I was mistaken and had just been caught up in the hype or the visuals or some element I hadn’t expected going into the movie. When I look at the film a little later down the line, I’ll often find that I’m not as impressed with it upon a second viewing. This is not the case with “Oz the Great and Powerful”. In fact, I think I liked it even a little better than I did the first time.
Sam Raimi fills his retro-prequel with a Marvel film’s worth of references. By replicating film and acting styles from the 1930s, he makes a modern special effects film that might jar audiences and critics alike. He includes references to early film developments and developers and even different films and genres throughout the years. His screenplay, by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay Abaire, is not just a clothesline for special effects sequences or even Raimi’s film references, by it has a brain and a heart, just like the Scarecrow and the Tin Man. It is a wonderful film that deserves a second chance.