Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

by Ron Vitale

I went to see Oz the Great and Powerful today and timing worked out well. I rushed in, grabbed a seat right during the Iron Man 3 trailer was finishing and the movie just started. Perfect timing. However, I did have a bit of sticker shock: I paid $14 for a ticket to see the film in 3D. I could write a whole post on why the price of the movie ticket wanted me to stop going to the movies. I thought $10 would be expensive enough and I misread the listing online, thinking I was attending a non-3D screening. No such luck.

Was the 3D experience worth the price of the ticket? No. I keep saying this time and time again. When will 3D go away? I think after today's experience I will make certain that I do not attend another 3D screening. Hopefully, soon 3D will die out. What about the movie? Was it great and powerful?

I enjoyed the movie, but I wouldn't call it great. I thought the movie more solid than Alice in Wonderland but I'm finding a recurring theme in these big budget movies. There is more eye candy on the screen than character development. Don't get me wrong: I didn't hate this film, I really didn't, but I found it merely good. I have no desire to see it again. Yes, it brought in more than $80 million on its opening weekend, but it cost reportedly $325 to make. Let me say that again: $325 million. That's a lot of money for one film.

I can sum this film up in a few sentences: The plot is see-through and if you pay attention during the opening credits you'll basically catch the "big reveal" that negates any mystery about the plot. The effects are pretty, but nothing caught me as being spell-binding and mind-blowing. It simply was a good film that had weak characters. By watching the trailer, you pretty much know all that you need to know about this film. My favorite character was the little china girl. I thought her storyline somewhat interesting, but she was simply a minor character with not much to do.

I've seen a lot worse big budget films so I would say go ahead and see this one. It's entertaining. But I would rather ask this: Have we reached a point in which the big budget films are so bloated that gone is much of the human emotion in the story? What about the acting and character interactions that make us feel something for them? This is why I really enjoyed The Fellowship of the Ring. I cared about those characters and enjoyed seeing them grow over the three films.

James Franco is okay, but there isn't much to this story. For $325 million, you think that maybe someone could write a script that is engaging and really moving. But maybe that's just me: I think I'm asking too much for a blockbuster film. They are simply meant to entertain us and make a lot of money. One of the reasons that I enjoyed Inception is that there's an interesting story at its center. But maybe it's time that we start to challenge ourselves and take a step back and use our imagination. Movies like Moon, Another Earth and Sound of My Voice have captured my attention because they're more character driven. I'm asked to use my imagination without witches flying through the air and balls of fire incinerating things.

I like movies about people and fantastical places and emotional pull that teaches me something about the human condition. Oz the Great and Powerful simply is a pretty plain story: Can a man overcome his greed and ego to become a truly great man by helping others? Yeah, it's that simple. I know that the purpose of the movie isn't supposed to be about the characters, but I wouldn't mind seeing more films that challenge me to think. Oz the Great and Powerful serves everything up on a plate for me and I simply needed to sit back and take it all in. It's a sub-par roller coaster ride that did not want me to go back for more.

And for $325 million, you would think that Disney would want me to come back again and again. See it on the big screen, but I wouldn't waste my money on the 3D. You'll be out a few more bucks and really won't gain anything. Disney pulls off a mediocre film, but I wonder when they'll be coming up with a movie to inspire and wow us. Great and powerful this movie isn't. Hopefully, that might come in the future. We shall see.