LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- THV 11 Film Critic Jonathan Nettles on Sam Raimi's Oz the Great and Powerful.
We know the story of Dorothy and her defeat of the Wicked Witch and the fraudulent ways of The Wizard of Oz but now it's time for the tale of the Wizard himself.
Oz the Great and Powerful starts off in classic black and white in Kansas. Oz is played by James Franco and is a magician in a traveling circus who cares about little more than making his riches.
When an angry circus strongman comes after him, he escapes via hot air balloon, is sucked into a tornado and wakes up in the mysterious, colorful land of Oz. Thus his journey begins.
He meets the young witch Theodora, played by Mila Kunis, who believes that he is the prophesied savior of Oz who will defeat the Wicked Witch (whose identity is unknown). Oz uses his charming ways on her and she very quickly falls in love with him and of course he goes along with the whole "savior of Oz" thing.
He is taken to the Emerald City where he meets sister witch Evanora, played by Rachel Weisz, who has an obvious touch of sinister in her. To officially claim the throne (and its wealth) he is given the task of killing the Wicked Witch. Along the way, he discovers who is truly evil and who is god while putting his own trickery and ingenuity to the test.
You should see Oz the Great and Powerful in 3D. Director Sam Raimi and the Visual Effects Artists have created a very colorful and detailed landscape that deserves that medium. It's definitely a kids' movie as its PG rating would suggest but you should know that there a few intensely scary moments that should be expected from a Sam Raimi film.
The lacking part of this film was emotion. This is not an actor's movie. It's an effects movie. I never really felt like anyone was in danger (which could be due to the kid-friendly nature). James Franco is an actor that I want to like but I want him to develop some consistency in his projects. I loved him in Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and 127 Hours but in between he's just not pulled it off.
It's not limited to Franco. In the third act, I have a hard time believing Mila Kunis but she does well for the rest of the film. Rachel Weisz even has problems with consistency across the film.
The good thing about the problems with Oz the great and Powerful is that it's still a fun movie to watch and it's made for kids and huge fans of the Judy Garland film, who might appreciate it a little more than me.
Dead Man Down is a neo-noir film from Danish director Niels Arden Oplev who directed the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Colin Farrell stars as Victor, a rising gangland player who has infiltrated the criminal empire of Alphonse, played by Terrence Howard, with the secret plot of avenging his destroyed happy life. When his secret is uncovered by Beatrice, played by Noomi Rapace, she threatens to expose him unless he helps her carry out her own campaign of revenge.