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Any Witch Way But Backwards: How Oz The Great & Powerful Erodes the Feminist Appeal of The Wizard of Oz…

I quite enjoyed Oz: The Great & Powerful. The visuals were amazing, and I thought that Sam Raimi brought the world of Oz to life in a way that audiences haven’t really seen since 1939. Despite the fact that the film was limited to elements from the source novels rather than the classic film, meaning no red slippers and the Winkie Guards chanting a generic “ho-ho-ho” instead of “ho-ee-ho-ee-oh”, I think that Oz: The Great & Powerful is the first time that a film has taken us back to that version of the wonderful world of Oz.

It’s a shame, then, about the script. I have a lot of problems with the screenplay by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire. Indeed, I’m less than thrilled that Kapner has apparently been tapped by Disney to prepare a sequel. While Raimi and his cast, and his production designers, seem to understand a great deal about the magic of The Wizard of Oz, it seems like Kapner and Lindsay-Abaire seem to have missed the point.

It’s a shame, then, that Oz: The Great & Powerful rolled on March 8th, celebrated as International Women’s Day. Dorothy Gale has been described as “the first feminist role model” and The Wizard of Oz is packed to the brim with strong female characters. Although Dorothy obviously can’t play a major role in this prequel, one does wonder where all the strong women have gone.

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Note: This post contains spoilers for Oz: The Great & Powerful. Consider yourself warned.

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Non-Review Review: Oz – The Great & Powerful

Oz: The Great & Powerful is a fabulous production. A few minor misgivings aside, it looks and sounds fantastic. Sam Raimi has done the best job bringing Oz to the screen since the original version of The Wizard of Oz all those decades ago. In its best moments, there’s an enthusiasm and a lightness of touch that fits the material perfectly and captures the wonder that we associate with Oz. It’s very clear that a lot of love and care was put into the production design of the film, and that Sam Raimi’s hand moved with the utmost consideration and affection for the original film. It makes it a little disappointing, then, that the script to Oz: The Great & Powerful should feel so undercooked, more like an early draft than a finished screenplay.

Up in the air or down to earth?

Up in the air or down to earth?

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Non-Review Review: The Deep Blue Sea (2011)

The Deep Blue Sea has two reasonably solid leading performances and some nice enough direction, but it suffers because it can’t convince us to are about any of its central characters. We don’t have to like any of the three characters involved in the central love-affair, but there does have to be some hook that grabs us and convinces us to emotionally engage and invest in this post-War exploration of several broken characters. That connection simply isn’t there, and the rest of the movie collapses as a direct result of that absence.

Yeah, she wants to dance with somebody…

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Non-Review Review: The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy is the kind of trick you only get to pull once. It’s an interesting narrative experiment, but it doesn’t really work as its own movie. It almost feels, at times, like a deleted subplot from the second two films in the trilogy, removed and expanded to fill two-hours-and-a-half. It’s certainly an interesting idea, and it’s a clever way of skirting the issues created by Matt Damon’s refusal to return, but the problem is that The Bourne Legacy never feels like it is entirely its own film. While it features two characters who have their own arc, the overall plot plays out according to storybeats that are happening off screen – in another story with another agent. It’s a fascinating take on the summer blockbuster, but I’m not convinced it’s an entirely successful one.

Bourne again?

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Bourne Legacy: A Look Inside the Story…

Have to admit, I’m quite curious to see how The Bourne Legacy plays out. It’s being released in the States on Friday and here next Monday. I’ve written before about how the structure of the film intrigues me, and Universal Pictures Ireland just sent over this behind-the-scenes look at the film. Enjoy. And if any international readers get a chance to see this before I do, let me know what you thought. (No spoilers, please!)

You can also win some Bourne-related goodies here, with thanks to Universal.

Non-Review Review: The Mummy Returns

I will confess that I enjoyed The Mummy for what it was. It wasn’t ground-breaking or revolutionary, but it was a nice attempt to resurrect the old Universal Monster Movie for modern audiences, with Raiders of the Lost Ark providing a rather clear inspiration. Perhaps part of the appeal was novelty, as we hadn’t seen an old-style monster movie like that in quite some time. I remember being somewhat disappointed on seeing the second film in cinemas, feeling like it just didn’t measure up to the solidly entertaining original. Having caught it again this weekend, I find I’m in firm agreement with my younger self.

I'll stick my neck out and admit I enjoyed the first film...

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Non-Review Review: The Lovely Bones

There are somethings you can’t put a positive spin on. The rape and murder of a fourteen-year-old girl is one of those things.

A little too lovely...

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