By Megan Bianco
The Wizard of Oz is one of the most famous stories of all time, as a series of children’s books by L. Frank Baum and as the classic 1939 MGM musical. Because this tale has become a childhood essential, there have been a number of other attempts at capturing the universe on screen over the last 70 years, such as a re-imagined version called The Wiz (1978) and the frighteningly dark Return to Oz (1985). Now Disney Pictures delivers their own version, but with emphasis on the wizard instead of Dorothy and titled Oz: The Great and Powerful.
When a tornado carries magician-showman Oscar Diggs (James Franco) away to the land of Oz, a witch named Theodora (Mila Kunis) tells him he is ‘Oz’ and has arrived to save their home from a wicked witch. It soon becomes clear that Theodora’s sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) is not so good and is setting up Oz and the real good witch, Glinda (Michelle Williams), to be defeated.
Sam Raimi, famous for the Evil Dead and Spider-Man trilogies, directs Oz beautifully from all angles aesthetically, especially the art direction and the witches’ costumes. But the screenplay lacks any interesting character and story development, and Franco is horribly miscast as the protagonist. Williams and Weisz are two of the best actresses in modern cinema, but are wasted here when the film could have centered around all three witches with the wizard on the side.