In an early March tradition, big blockbuster movies come to the screen, the ones that aren’t quite right to compete with the big movies of the summer season. This year it’s “Oz the Great and Powerful.”
“Oz” was directed by Sam Raimi, the director of the “Spider-man” trilogy, “Drag Me to Hell” and “The Evil Dead.” Raimi brings some of his trademark “horror film” cinematography to the film in a way that doesn’t quite work here and he seemingly realize it as well seeing ends after around 20 minutes.
Where this film is saved is the great performance by James Franco. Franco plays a con man that is transported to the Land of Oz by a tornado. This is where the film truly begins to pick up. The entire con man dynamic is actually great and helps the films slow beginning.
Franco is a carnival magician who uses his slight of hand and skills of misdirection to trick the carnival goers out of their money. This continues when Franco gets to Oz and pretends to be the wizard that the city was looking and hoping for. He tricks the entire city into thinking he has great abilities in an attempt to get the throne and the wealth that comes with it. Franco did a great job playing a charming dirt bag and gave the film an interesting level to play off of.
The best part of this film, however, was the fact that it was the return of Zach Braff. “Oz” is Braff’s first film since taking time off after the end of “Scrubs,” and shows we should all sign a petition to put him in at least every other movie. Braff gives a very solid preformence as Frank, James Franco’s assistant, in the beginning of the film before he is taken by the tornado. But he was truly great as Finley, a monkey in Oz who is quick to accompany Franco on his journey. We love you, Zach Braff. Don’t leave us again.
While the film is not great, it’s much better than some of its reviews suggest. It shows that Sam Raimi is capable of handling a big blockbuster film that is far from his well-known horror films and “Spider-man.”
“Oz” is not a great movie by any means, but it has enough charm to make it a film that you should see. I’d wait to rent it on DVD.
I give it 3 ½ stars out of 5.