Oz: The Great and Powerful is a 2013 fantasy film directed by Sam Raimi, and produced by the same people behind Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and following the leads of then-recent Darker and Edgier versions of notable literary creations such as the aforementioned Alice in Wonderland, Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films, and Snow White & the Huntsman.The film is adapted from L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It is intended as a prequel to the book, more than the original film. As in the book, Oz is a real place, with the Wizard being somebody who came long ago in a balloon he didn't know how to use properly. It thematically resembles the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz - starting in black and white, with the main characters resembling people Oz knew in Kansas, and serves an origin story, showing how Oz came to the kingdom.The film stars; James Franco as Oscar Diggs, the man who would be known as Oz; Mila Kunis as Theodora the Good; Michelle Williams as Glinda the Good, daughter of the former King of Oz; and Rachel Weisz as Evanora the Good. Also starring are notable Raimi alumni, including brother Ted and Bruce Campbell, and Danny Elfman provided the score, returning for their sixth collaboration together after a long break since Spider-Man 2.
This film provides examples of:
Adaptation Dye-Job: Glinda in the books has red hair, as does Billie Burke's portrayal of her in the original film. Here she is a blonde.
Adaptational Attractiveness: Though she maintains her iconic green skin and hooked nose, the Wicked Witch of the West is younger and more sexualized in this continuity, making her appear as more of a Cute Monster Girl than the hideous crone look Margaret Hamilton had in 1939. Granted, this is a prequel taking place long before Dorothy's adventure, but still.
Anachronism Stew: Despite the seemingly low technology setting in Oz, the houses in Munchkinland appears to have electric lamps.
Ancient Artifact: Every witch, good and bad, appears to draw power from a jeweled artifact. Glinda uses a wand, Evanora has a huge jewel in a pendant, and Theodora has a ruby ring. Breaking the artifact deprives the witch of all her power and breaks certain enchantments; that's what happens to Evanora at the end.
Batman Gambit: When Oscar asks to have a hot-air balloon made, everyone believes that he is running away from the witches because he is afraid of them. Theodora shoots down the balloon and everyone believes Oz to be dead. This allows him to "return" as the disembodied head because he is now "freed of his mortal form".
Beam-O-War: Happens briefly during Glinda and Evanora's aerial battle during the climax.
Beauty Equals Goodness: Zig-zagged, but ultimately Glinda is the only witch to remain beautiful throughout the entire film. Theodora turns ugly when she turns evil and Evanora was concealing her ugliness under a charm, so it's true to the 1930s movie's canon.
The Casanova: Oscar, with a music box and a heartfelt (and false) story as his lockpicks. On-screen, we see him do it to a simple country girl, May, the strongman's wife, and Theodora. That last one bites back big time when Evanora claims he also did the same with her.
Chewing the Scenery / Large Ham: When the great and powerful Oz "reveals" his true form, he ramps up his performance to magnificent levels. Theodora rivals him quite well in this respect after her Face-Heel Turn.
Color-Coded Wizardry: Glinda's magic is white or iridescent, Evanora's is green, and Theodora's is red. This corresponds to the gemstones in Glinda's wand, Evanora's amulet, and Theodora's ring, which are the source or catalyst for each witch's power. Plays with the color coding from the original books as well. Red is traditionally a Quadling country (where Glinda is from) color. Most likely done as misdirection and/or because Glinda in the 1939 movie was an amalgam of the book's Glinda and Good Witch of the North. Oscar's feigned "magic" also tends to have these colors too (green bouquet-leaves, red or white scarves, red flash powder, white projection).
Conspicuous CG: In a few places, particularly in the animation of the Wicked Witch's face.
Annie's dress is gingham, like Dorothy's, and she's going to marry John Gale (thought to be Henry's brother).
When Theodora cries, her tears seem to damage her skin. This is a nod to the fact that the Wicked Witch of the West could only be killed by water. Before that, when she first meets Oz and says that she's afraid: she's standing on a stone in the middle of a river.
Oscar sends a lion fleeing and calls him a coward, referencing the Cowardly Lion.
The Army sent across the poppy field? Scarecrows!
Corrupt the Cutie: It doesn't take much effort at all for Evanora to turn Theodora wicked. All it takes is a little abuse of the truth and a magic apple.
Creator Thumbprint: One of Raimi's favorite types of shots, a shot from the POV of an attacking object, shows up as a post from a picket fence hurtles toward Oscar in the tornado sequence. The plants in the Dark Forest also get this treatment when they attack Oz and company.
Darkest Hour: Oz tried to make a get-up — and was killed. He deliberately engineered it.
Dark Is Evil: Played with. Before Evanora is revealed as the true Big Bad, she nevertheless dresses in black and dark green, yet is presented as the king's loyal adviser and a defender of the people. Meanwhile, Glinda's first appearance is in a fog-filled Creepy Cemetery on the other side of the Dark Forest, where she is dressed in a concealing, ragged Black Cloak; the fact she is trusting enough to lay down her wand while she unlocks the gate is the first clue she isn't the Wicked Witch she appears to be.
The Ditz: May, the country girl that becomes Oscar's new assistant in his act at the beginning of the film. It's most apparent when Oscar asks for a volunteer from the audience during the show, which is clearly her cue, but it goes completely over her head and she doesn't even consider raising her hand or anything of the sort. Instead, Oscar has to actively pick her out from the audience, to which she then responds: "Oh, yes! I'd like to volunteer!"
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Evanora offers Theodora a green apple under false pretenses in the same vein as the Evil Queen from Snow White. Except instead of killing her, it destroys her inner goodness and ability to care for others, physically transforming her into the Wicked Witch of the West in the process.
Doing in the Scientist: Oz is a real place. Dorothy just saw all the parallels between people she met in Oz and people she knew earlier and assumed it was a dream.
Doomed by Canon: The Wicked Witches, who are merely exiled in this movie. Yes, this means poor Theodora never gets her redemption. Alas... Possibly also Annie, if she and John Gale are (orphan) Dorothy's future parents.
Dragon Ascendant: Evanora — the future Witch of the East — is the villain responsible for the threat the characters face, but her actions turn her sister Theodora into the more ruthless and far more dangerous Wicked Witch of the West.
Dull Surprise: Glinda The Witch, who needs to keep her emotions under control.
Blow You Away: Despite initially appearing to be a Evil Is Deathly ColdIce Person, Glinda wields power over the winds, including using the iconic bubbles and creating fog. Connecting to this element, she is also calm and level-headed, as well as being defense-oriented. Then there's her Light 'em Up other magic.
Eureka Moment: When Oscar tells the China Girl about Thomas Edison, he realizes how he can use Edison's inventions to defeat the wicked witches.
Evil Costume Switch: Theodora's transformation into the Wicked Witch of the West is marked by a change into a black dress and pointed hat.
Evil Is Hammy: Besides losing her heart, Theodora also seems to lose her indoor voice after turning wicked.
Evil Makes You Ugly/Red Right Hand: When a witch chooses to become thoroughly wicked, she dramatically loses her beauty, as seen with the Wicked Witch of the West and also the true form of the Wicked Witch of the East. This may be a reference to Glinda's line in the original film that "Only bad witches are ugly."
Expy: Interestingly, the three witches can be seen as being inspired by their portrayals in Wicked — but in different roles. Theodora is Nessarose (the Wicked Witch of the East, as both turn evil and crazy due to broken hearts as well as being young and naive), Glinda is Elphaba (a good witch who is thought of as wicked, and can see through the wizard's facade), and Evanora is like Wicked's Glinda (advisers to the heads of Oz who are prepared to compromise morals for their own benefits and power).
Extremely Short Timespan: The climatic confrontation occurs quite soon after Oscar gets to Oz; some fans have conjectured the whole movie may take place in 3-4 days.
Face Palm: Oscar's assistant Frank does one when May, Oscar's new female assistant for his show, completely misses her cue to raise her hand when he asks for a volunteer from the audience. See also the entry for The Ditz further up on the page.
Finley also does one when Oscar's image projector temporarily malfunctions.
Face-Heel Turn: Theodora goes from thinking she's on the side of good to unambiguously being a wicked witch.
Fan Disservice: Even though it was attempted with The Wicked Witch of the West, it is played straight with Evanora, whose true form is revealed after Glinda breaks her crystal.
Fanservice: Theodora/The Wicked Witch of the West, Evanora, and Glinda wear some rather low-cut and revealing outfits, and are all incredibly beautiful witches. And as a tiny bonus, Theodora strips down to her corset during her transformation sequence.
When Theodora first meets Oz, she is wearing black, shiny, figure-hugging leggings and knee-high leather boots. And then she crawls into the cave first. It's doubtful it was unintended.
First Girl Wins: Averted. The first person Oz meets in Oz is Theodora. Things don't work out for them.
Flying Broomstick: Although in Oz all witches can fly on their own, Theodora takes one from a Quadling and rides on it when she flies, mostly due to her cruelly mocking Oscar's suggestion before her transformation about how all witches fly with brooms.
Foregone Conclusion: Naturally, given the prequel status. The three witches and Oscar can't die. Also, the fact Oscar isn't a great wizard can't be revealed.
Oscar's magic act is interrupted by a girl in a wheelchair who asks him to make her walk. Obviously, he can't. When he meets China Girl, however, he fixes her legs so that she can walk again. Guess who provides her voice?
When Mila Kunis' name appears in the opening credits, pay close attention to the shadow made by the figurine.
For the Evulz: Unlike her sister Evanora, whose motivation is to rule the kingdom of Oz, Theodora (after her corruption) is only interested in doing as many evil and wicked things as possible.
Fun with Subtitles: The captions on the Blu-Ray look white during Kansas scenes, but yellow during the Oz portion.
Good Is Dumb: Theodora, while kind-hearted, is extremely naive and easily deceived and manipulated by both Oscar and Evanora. Also inverted: when Theodora eats the apple that makes her "wicked", she instantly realizes that Evanora was the one responsible for everything.
Good Is Not Dumb: Glinda, however, is made of wiser stuff, and is quite able to see through Oz's smarmy Con Man facade to know he is selfish, greedy, and not a true wizard (though his trouble passing through the magic barrier probably clued her in too). But she accepts him anyway because she knows the people need a leader to believe in and a Guile Hero may be just what can win the day.
Guile Hero: Throughout the film, Oscar uses misdirection and his magician's tricks to appear to be a powerful wizard.
Handsome Lech: Though it's a PG rated film, it's obvious that Oscar gets around quite a bit, and when he meets each of the witches, he doesn't stop.
Heel Face Door Slam: Theodora has a moment of realisation just after biting the apple where she sees that Evanora is the evil one. It's sadly too late and the transformation turns her into the Wicked Witch of the West.
Hollywood Science: Tornadoes don't really transport people to Oz. That aside... tornadoes do not work that way.
Hot Witch: Glinda, Evanora, and Theodora are all quite easy on the eyes. Even after her transformation, Theodora still looks fairly beautiful since she's supposed to be 20 years younger than the character in the 1939 film. Evanora, on the other hand, was actually hiding her true hideous self through her magic. After her magic is stripped from her after battling Glinda, she was no longer able to mask her ugly form.
Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Glinda is pure as the driven snow. Subverted with Theodora. Often incorruptible pureness is associated with innocence and naivite. But Theodora's innocence and naivete are what make her corruptible. Glinda is pure, but not naive, and that is what makes her effective.
Inevitable Waterfall: Oscar's balloon lands in a rushing river, complete with multiple examples of this trope.
Ink-Suit Actor: Joey King's facial features are reflected with the China Girl, which also parallels the crippled girl who wishes to be able to walk but Oz cannot oblige.
Ironic Echo: "May I have this dance?" said by Oscar to Theodora when they first met. Said again by Theodora when she came back for vengeance for him leaving her for Glinda.
Karmic Transformation: Evanora's uglification when Glinda removes her necklace is a fitting karmic punishment for tricking Theodora into becoming a green-skinned witch.
Let's Get Dangerous: Glinda's powers seemingly consist of making fog and soap bubbles — until the finale, when she goes toe-to-toe with Evanora and opens a can of whoopass.
Logo Joke: The Disney logo is in Black and White, and the word Disney opens through the middle (like a gate) and zooms into the entrance of the castle.
Lovable Coward: When his bluffs and tricks fail, Oscar tends to run away very quickly from danger throughout the film. Granted, he's usually running away from monsters or witches who could easily kill him, so this is probably a Justified Trope.
Love Makes You Evil: Theodora falls for Oz, but Evanora convinces her that he was also intimate with her and is now with Glinda, tricking Theodora into becoming wicked to escape the resulting pain. Only then does Theodora realize her sister was the truly wicked one, but by then it's too late, and once her transformation is complete, she doesn't care.
Magic Versus Science: In the end, it's Oz's illusions and stagecraft, created with (for the time) modern technology, that wins against the witches, who view anything fantastic they don't understand as a form of very powerful magic.
Magical Accessory: Evanora's emerald neckalce and Theodora's ruby ring are the sources of their witch powers. Glinda the good witch, in contrast, uses a Magic Wand.
Male Gaze: Take a look at the outfits the witches wear when you can.
Man-Eating Plant: Finley is found entangled in a predatory vine's tendrils. A whole bunch of snappy flowers — attached to the Fighting Trees — attack Oscar's group in the Dark Forest.
Master of Illusion: By film's end, everyone in Oz is fooled by Oscar's illusions note except for the people helping him pull them off, of course. Even the villains are convinced he's a genuine invincible wizard.
Oz's arrival is a combo of Dorothy's arrivals in Oz in the 1939 film and Return to Oz.
Theodora is an anagram of Dorothea, as in Dorothy...
Oscar visits China Town, a community where everything, including the people, is made out of china. This is inspired by a scene from Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that was left out of the 1939 movie.
Oscar's girlfriend in Kansas decides to settle down with a local boy by the name of John Gale.
The farmers wanting to build a scarecrow, which Oscar says may be useful later.
Oscar calling the lion a coward.
At one point, Oz and Finley walk by a pasture filled with horses of a different color.
You can hum the "oo-ee-ooh" chant from the film perfectly in time to the guards marching and striking their staffs on the ground.
The statue of Oz's late king is paired with a lion statue. The Cowardly Lion regularly claimed to be the "King of Beasts", so the lion in the statue may have been his father, memorialized as a peer of the human king.
Evanora's true appearance resembles the Wicked Witch of the West as she was described in Baum's original novel, as opposed to the more famous version from the 1939 film her sister is based on.
A shot of Oscar's balloon coming down is near-identical to the way Dorothy's house fell down in the 1939 film.
The Munckins performing a musical number like in the 1939 film.
Glinda kissing Oz's forehead for luck is a reference to a scene in the original book where the Good Witch of the North does the same to Dorothy in order to protect her from harm.
Oscar lamenting to Glinda they need a General to lead the army, referencing a certain other Tin Man by the name of Tik-Tok.
Other parallels to the original 1939 film: the opening sequence in Kansas is shot in black-and-white and a 4:3 aspect ratio, like the Kansas scenes in the original movie. But it shifts to 2:35:1 aspect ratio in color once Oscar arrives in Oz. Additionally, actors who play Oz characters also make cameos in Kansas.
When Oz tucks the China Girl into her bed, he begins to talk about his hero Thomas Edison, the Wizard of Menlo Park. He begins by saying, "Where I come from..." In The Wizard of Oz, the Wizard used that same turn of phrase when talking to Dorothy and her friends.
The final scene of the movie has Oz offering symbolic presents to his allies, granting their wishes in non-magical ways, much as the Wizard did in the original movie. Especially when he presents himself and the others to the China Girl as her new family, to replace the family she lost to Evanora's attack on China Town.
Oz's full name is a nine-name combination whose letters spell OZ Pinhead, explaining why he got his name. This is from one of the sequels to the book.
Near Villain Victory: Theodora the Wicked Witch catches what appears to be Oz escaping with the gold in a hot air balloon and shoots him down to destroy the hope of the people of Emerald City. Unfortunately for her, he planned this right from the start to fake his own death and launch his real illusion.
Never Work with Children or Animals: Oz cites this trope verbatim to discourage China Girl from following him on his quest to kill the "wicked witch". Thanks to Finley, he's already working with an animal.
Never Trust a Trailer: Some trailers make it obvious Evanora is the antagonist, yet others try to make her appear like a good witch. Several of the trailers also make it appear that Theodora and the Wicked Witch of the West are two different characters. They're not.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Thanks to Oz's womanizing ways, Theodora is heartbroken and susceptible to being corrupted by Evanora, eventually becoming the Wicked Witch of the West. Oz recognizes that Theodora's fall to wickedness is at least partly his fault.
Oh Crap: Oscar gets this when he says, "Lion?" after Finley tells him it's not the vines he's worried about, it's the lion.
The strongman and the circus folks, when they see the tornado.
Oz suddenly realizing only the pure-hearted can pass through the wall, both Oz and Glinda do this in the same scene.
Only the Pure of Heart: The wall surrounding Glinda's castle in Quadling Country only lets the purehearted pass (until the Wicked Witch of the West has a power-up that lets her burn right through with the Power Of Hate). Oz is understandably worried at learning this, but after being stopped at the wall and a certain amount of buckling, he passes through. Whether this is because he's essentially good at heart (but definitely not pure) or because he doubted himself isn't clear.
Rage Against the Reflection: Theodora smashes a mirror after she cries from being heartbroken by Oscar, and the tears burn scars into her face.
Redemption Rejection: Before Theodora retreats from the Emerald City, Oscar tells her that he knows that it wasn't her fault for her wickedness, and offers to welcome her back should she regain the goodness in her. She shouts at him "NEVER!", and leaves laughing.
Red Herring: The whole plot seems laid out at first as a simple Black and White Morality tale: two good, beautiful sister witches claim to be defending Oz from the depredations of an evil witch, hail the surprisinglyGenre BlindGuile Hero as The Chosen One who is prophesied to save them all, and send him off to kill the villain. However, the "Wicked Witch" is actually Glinda the Good, while Evanora is the true Big Bad, something which is hinted at by Theodora's temper and fire-based powers (not to mention her talk with Evanora), but not fully revealed until after Oz meets Glinda in her Obviously Evil garb, who tells him the truth of the matter. Anyone familiar with the books, meanwhile, would likely cotton on as soon as Theodora claims she isn't wicked and reveals she has a sister back at the Emerald City. The fact Theodora dresses in red up until her transformation even makes this trope literal, since the viewer could easily be misled into thinking, despite the name, that she was the Witch of the South (since Glinda had red hair and wore red in the books). Up until she eats the apple, she isn't wicked, and is just as fooled about her sister's villainy as everyone else.
Running Gag: Knuck always trying to start up a fanfare, only for someone to cut him off almost immediately. He finally gets to do it just as the movie ends.
Evanora's fashion sense seems awfully close to Azkedellia's, with the slinky cut, the sheer weight of sequins, and the showy emerald necklace. Also the fact that her minions are more wild and have bat wings instead of the traditional birdlike wings.
Sam Raimi seems to work in one to himself as well. Evanora's transformation and final attack upon and escape from Glinda seems remarkably similar to a scene in one of the director's earlier works...
The China Girl's line "Let's go kill ourselves a witch." is an obvious reference to Evil Dead 2.
When Oz and Theodora hear one of the Wicked Witch's minions, we have dutch tilts similar to the ones in the Evil Dead trilogy.
In the dark forest, we have trees that move like the ones in Evil Dead 2.
In the third act, Oz is showing the tinkers gun powder, which is an obvious reference to Army Of Darkness.
The first few times, Oz mistakenly calls Glinda 'Wanda'.
Alternately, this could be a shout-out to Sesame Street's famous "Wanda the Witch" animated segment.
Oz's giant projected face (which appears after he "dies") looks a lot like Shoshanna's giant projected face (which appears after she dies) from Inglourious Basterds, which is also a reference to The Wizard of Oz.
Oz's oft-repeated Catch Phrase of "Zim Zallah Bim!" was originally used by Hadji whenever the latter would perform his own feats of magic/sleight-of-hand.
James Franco actually had to learn how to perform several magic tricks for his part, from an actual stage magician. While a lot of the original performances had to be cut because the movie would have been too long, all of the magic tricks seen throughout the movie are either real and performed by Franco himself, or CGI duplications of real magic tricks that actually could be performed in live stage performances.
Smug Snake: The arrogant, overconfident Evanora. The climax makes it clear that Theodora is made of much sterner stuff, as Evanora's nerve cracks far more quickly.
Special Effect Failure: Played with in-universe. In Oz's magic act at the beginning of the movie, he is levitating a woman's body covered in a sheet, when an angry spectator interrupts to point out that he can clearly see the wires holding her up. This turns out to be all part of the show when Oz cuts the wires, removes the sheet, and reveals that the woman has vanished.
Stolen MacGuffin Reveal: In the fight between Glinda and Evanora, just as Evanora is about to zap Glinda on the floor, she has a moment of confusion when nothing happens. Glinda then lifts her hand to reveal Evanora's crushed amulet.
Storming the Castle: Using the inventions Oscar brought to Oz, the good guys invade the Emerald City. It also comes with some literal storming.
Sugar Apocalypse: There's Oz as a whole, and the land of Teacups and porcelain people in particular. Though there are dangers in Oz, most of it is highly colorful, whimsical, and safe, especially those parts under the good witch Glinda's protection. The "apocalypse" comes in from the wicked witch besieging it with flying monkeys; the land of Teacups is shattered and its denizens massacred. Main character China Girl is actually introduced after having had both of her legs broken to bits. The rest of the movie could be seen as an attempt to undo this trope and save Oz.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: After learning that Oz isn't a real wizard, Finley engages in an epic declaration of how much of a genuine wizard he is, "with no sinister, ulterior agenda at all."
Tears of Remorse: Finley suggests he try this instead of defeating the wicked witch.
That Man Is Dead: "Oscar Diggs died so that the Great and Powerful Oz could be."
This Is Your Brain on Evil: Theodora's heart shrivels and dies from the enchanted apple Evanora gives her. She goes from troubled goodness to pure unadulterated wickedness in the same scene.
Thou Shalt Not Kill: Glinda and her followers' credo. And Oscar must lead them to victory over an opponent (and her minions) who will kill.
Totem Pole Trench: Done by the munchkins, who seem to be formidable warriors, but end up being three of the little people atop each other.
Tragic Villain: Theodora was a genuinely good witch who only wanted peace for Oz. She not only believed that Oscar was the Wizard, but also fell in love with him. However, Evanora manipulated her into believing that Oscar never loved her by showing her Oscar and Glinda together and pretending that he courted her too, and convinced her that he would only move on to another once he got bored. Evanora then convinced her to bite a green apple, claiming it would take away her sorrow. It not only took that, but all the good in her — replacing it with wickedness and hate (as well as changing her skin to green).
White Male Lead: Oscar. Odd, considering the Oz books mostly had female protagonists.
Wicked Witch: Evanora and Theodora, who becomes the Trope Codifier for the Wicked Witch of The West. Ironically, it was Oscar that gave her the idea for many of the conventions, most noticeably her broom.
Woman Scorned: Theodora, who had her heart broken by Oscar. Her desire for revenge kickstarts her transformation into the Wicked Witch of the West. Exploited later by Oz, who tricked her into faking his own death.
Writing Around Trademarks: The film is produced by Disney, but the rights of the original film are owned by Warner Bros. As a result, it's legally a prequel to the books (which are in the public domain), but intended as a prequel to the film. Thus, most of the likenesses or elements specific to the '39 film could not be used (i.e. Evanora's Ruby Slippers are never mentioned), and the Wicked Witch of the West's skin even had to be changed to a different shade of green. It couldn't be All Just a Dream, either.
Zero Approval Gambit: During the final confrontation between the Wicked Witches, Oscar pretends to make a getaway with a bunch of gold, making everyone think he's abandoned them. Then, when his balloon is shot down and everyone believes he's dead, he works his stage magic and a video projector to make a grand comeback as the "true" Wizard of Oz, renewing everyone's hope and driving the witches away.