''Oz, The Great and Powerful'' is a film that tries so hard to nod to its progenitor (the 1930s movie, not so much the books) and yet I get the impression it is secretly annoyed by it. After all, The Wizard of Oz lives in a time where you can have cardboard sets, pantomime singing and unashamed melodrama, whilst Oz, The Great and Powerful lives in a time where actors must brood, battles must be sweeping, and tone is just some thing you learn in a screenwriting class but don't quite care to remember. I envision a modern day producer, seething in rage at the more colourful, family friendly drafts of the movie. "What, are we making a movie for faggots?!" He would shout, "We need a million CGI baboons! And 3D gimmickry! And cleavage and dripping mascara!" It's odd to get hung up on grimness when there already exists a decent, creepy as hell sequel. And what about the genuinely scary moments within the original? I think it worked back then because of a basic tactile quality to the flames, moth eaten monkey costumes and Margaret Hamilton's face. You don't expect that kind of shit in a movie that has a singing, lisping lion. In Oz though, a CGI 3D baboon, CGI 3D carnivorous plant, or Mila Kunis shrieking right into the camera just doesn't look like an authentic threat to a kid in the audience. No, there is not a lot I liked about Oz. There are some nice costumes, and the CGI china girl was very impressive. That's it. The only thing else I can really do is use up the rest of the word count, complaining about the tacky looking CGI (china girl excluding), the terrible casting (Franco can't come across as anything other than slimy, Zack Braff as boring, and Mila Kunis as unrelentingly awful) and a revisionist script that buggers up the fairly straightforward job of setting up a story everyone knows off by heart. Much like Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, I can't quite figure out who Oz is aimed at. Teenage girls who hate books and classic movies, maybe? It's a demographic too small to include me, anyway. The most positive thing I can say about Oz is that it isn't as bad as Alice in Wonderland.
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