September 29, 2020

BY JOANNA DITTMER

The cat is out of the bag. The mystery of the Wizard has been solved.

In the newly released prequel to the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, viewers return to the Land of Oz with excitement.

It opens in classic black and white, with magician, Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a.k.a. Oz, pondering his decision to leave the ordinary world behind and enter the life of show business after a visit from the woman he loves who informs him of her upcoming nuptials.

After a show gone wrong, Oz gets chased by a potential lover’s man, who, unluckily, happens to be the circus strongman. Running for dear life, Oz jumps into a hot air balloon, cuts the rope and drifts off scot-free. Or so he thinks.

Enter the twister that Oz gets trapped in. Around and round he goes, where he stops? Well, everyone knows by the yellow-brick road in the Land of Oz.

At this point, colour has crept in and the screen widens. The viewer gets a look at the beautiful scenery before glancing at the gorgeous Theodora (Mila Kunis).

With the help of Theodora, Oz makes his way to the Emerald City where he believes he will assume the throne. Being the conman he is, he has assured Theodora that the prophecy is true, that he is indeed the great wizard who has come to save her city and rule over it.

It doesn’t take long for his lie to unfold which in turn turns the beautiful Theodora into her ugly and mean inner self.

Sam Raimi, director of Oz the Great and Powerful, and best known for the Spider-Man trilogy, brings to life the perfect nostalgic beginning, before losing it all in colour.

A movie that had great potential was a real letdown to some fans of the original.

The scenes were very drawn out and the secondary characters not as well developed as they could have been.

The film proves to be a good film in its own regard – it is much more comical than The Wizard of Oz, and what it lacks in narration, it makes up for with special effects – but it almost overdoes it. Once the black and white film fades and the viewer is introduced to colour it seems as though they let a preteen edit the movie and he completely overexposed everything.

The colours are so vivid that it hurts the eyes at times, and some of the computer-generated images are easily identified as fake.

However, Franco plays the perfect Oz. He portrays a great version of a man who is attempting to find his place and learn the value of love and friendship.

Kunis is seen in a new light, as an evil witch – literally. Theodora is a complete 180 degree change from what fans have come to know Kunis by. She did a great job at stretching herself as an actress, but at times it was like she should have stayed where comfortable.

Kids will likely love the movie, the colours and the storyline. But those old enough to remember – and love – the original, will leave the theatre disappointed.

I give this movie three out of five stars.