15 February 2014

#2LR Movie Review: Oz, the Great and Powerful

Okay, so here's how lazy I am... this was written about six weeks ago and not posted. I have the Read or Die posting scheduled to run midweek as well.

Today’s 2LR is for the movie, Oz. The Great and Powerful.  In full disclosure, I probably have seen The Wizard of Oz perhaps once or twice in my childhood, but it was a movie that I was not really crazy about.  I think I was creeped out by the Munchkins, or perhaps the Tin Woodsman.  With that said, take any opinions I have against the world of Oz with a grain of salt, or perhaps a brick.

(Spoiler space ahead.)

The movie begins at a fairground in 1905, where a traveling magician is about to put on his act at the fair.  After a bit of issue with the local townsfolk, and then an issue with some of the sideshow acts, the traveling magician – Oz, short for Oscar -- takes off in a hot-air balloon to run away.  Unfortunately, being 1905 Kansas, he ends up sucked into a tornado.

You can probably guess where Oz the Magician ends up.  Thankfully, the image on the screen goes from black-and-white to color at this point, and the image finally fills the screen.  I know why the director did this, but it doesn’t mean that I liked it.  At any rate, Meg from Family Guy meets up with the crashed balloon, and she takes our erstwhile shyster to the Emerald City, for it was foretold that the savior of Oz would crash into Oz, and also have the same name.

So, we meet another witch who helps run the Emerald City, who seems nice but quite doubts Oz’s qualifications. She shows him the gold that the King of Oz is entitled to, and Oz’s eyes go wide.  She then tells him that he has to defeat (e.g. kill) a wicked witch, and gives him directions to get there. 

After that, Oz is going down the yellow-brick road on his way to kill the witch.  Meanwhile, we find out that Meg’s older sister is a bit mean… especially once we find out that Oz was sent to kill Glinda, the Good Witch.  It seems that she was chased off from the Emerald City by the death of her father, the king.  The older sister then starts on Meg Griffin, telling her that Oz (who she mysteriously was taken with) is now interested in Glinda.  Older sis uses Meg’s temper against her, tricking her into eating a green apple, which turns her green and ensures that she will turn into Margaret Hamilton in negative seventy years, give-or-take.

Glinda shows Oz the townspeople who they are trying to defend, and then mentions to him that they need to figure out a way to defeat the witches without killing them.  Seems a tall task, but if ever you need someone to resort to trickery, use a con-man.  Oz plans out ways to use sleight-of-hand style tricks and devices to defeat both the Flying Monkeys as well as the “Winkie Guards” (see, this is why I can’t take Oz overly seriously).  He also creates the famous smoke machine, fakes his own death so that the people of Oz treat it as if his spirit is coming back from the grave to help them, and manages to freak out both witches sufficiently to get them running.  Glinda takes care of the other advisor by breaking her magic necklace and starting a Raiders of the Lost Ark sequence on her, and Meg just flies off cackling.

(spoiler space over)

What did we learn?  Good question.  All I know is that in human history, it’s usually not a good idea to turn the governance of a country over to a con-man, no matter how “reformed” he seems.  As for the movie itself, I feel rather ambivalent towards it. I suppose it’s a decent waste of ninety minutes, though it’s not as if you’ll be overcome by the story of Oz’s magical conversion to the most honest con-man who’s still really a massive con-man, nor Meg Griffin’s descent into madness.  I suppose the best message to come out of this movie is, “Never eat a green apple.”

Final review: 1.9

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