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Tag Archives: Wizard of Oz

ANCC: Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return

Check out a completely random movie review with the All-New Culture Cast starring the phenomenal Gorehound, Nick, and Jen. Did they strike gold?

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What Went Wrong?: Vol. 46 – “Oz” Edition

This past weekend, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, a follow-up of sorts to the L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, was released and bombed.  It bombed hard by earning a paltry 3.8 million dollars (with a $70 million budget).  Not helping matters were the horrible reviews this film earned (15% on Rotten Tomatoes – how does this happen?).  While it was likely never going to make Avengers money, it did have a solid cast consisting of Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer, Martin Short, Patrick Stewart, and Lea Michele and an always-popular property.  What exactly went wrong here?

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It is simple: the computer animation looked incredibly cheap.  Seriously – look at it!  It looks like something that would have been mediocre on video game consoles ten years ago.  It doesn’t look fully rendered and there is a shockingly lack of details.  While having a simplistic animation style is okay, when we live in a world of Pixar and Dreamworks, any sort of independent company (without major studio backing) needs to push out a good-looking product in order to compete or get people interested.  The film, as is, looks like it was meant to be one of those cheap direct-to-DVD cartoons meant to cash in on some other popular, wide-release film.

Not helping matters at all was that the marketing didn’t sell the movie at all.  From trailers, the film just looked boring and uninspired, and the humor seemed flat.  In short, animation aside, the movie just didn’t look all that enticing to make audiences (mostly children) want to see it.  I’m also sure that releasing Legends of Oz the weekend after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 didn’t do it any favors either.

I also wonder if there were any production problems hindering the film (not unlike Foodfight).  I first remember reading about this movie back in 2010 when it was originally titled Dorothy of Oz (I’m a fan of The Wizard of Oz, so any new Oz news usually makes a blip on my radar).  I remember thinking the film’s story (something about a Jester taking control of Oz after the events of the first novel) seemed a bit misguided.

So sure of a 2012 release date, they had tie-in marketing ready to go including this 2012-2013 calendar.

So sure of a 2012 release date, they had tie-in marketing ready to go including this 2012-2013 calendar.

I would see the occasional update every so often until a few weeks ago, and I was surprised every time that the film wasn’t out yet.  I wasn’t anticipating the movie, but it seemed like the film was in production for forever.  A few weeks back, I started to notice the marketing promotions, and I couldn’t help but think that this movie already came out.  It didn’t.  Apparently, it was originally slated for 2012, but for current reasons unknown, it was delayed two years.  Not a good sign.

What did they do with that extended two years?  Nothing from the marketing suggests a higher quality of computer animation.  The story doesn’t seem all that engaging suggesting that re-writes were non-existent (or were just that bad).  What was done with that time?  Were the producers looking for a distribution deal?

So, this movie bombed and it is going to be forgotten about soon enough.  It is probably for the best.

Oz: The Great and Powerful

After I watched Burt Wonderstone this past weekend, I didn’t really want to go home yet.  As such, I snuck into a showing of Oz: The Great and Powerful I have been excited about this movie for a while.  I am a big Wizard of Oz fan (both the classic 1939 film and the original novel), so the idea of a prequel of how the Wizard came to Oz really appealed to me.  Add to that a creative team I have the upmost respect for, and you have sold me on it.  So, did the movie live up to my own personal hype?

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It largely did.  The visuals are amazing.  I happened to also see this in 3D, and, while that would not have been my original viewing choice, I have absolutely zero regrets about doing so.  The film stunning and director Sam Raimi utilizes the 3D to its full potential.  Plus, Oz was not a case of post-conversion.  It was filmed for 3D in 3D, and you all know how much I appreciate that.

That said, the film is a little long.  Granted, the running time is only a hair over two hours, but there are parts that somewhat drag and you want the film to move along.  Part of the problem, I feel, is that Raimi really wanted to show off the visuals.  I cannot blame him.  In a Wizard of Oz movie, you need impressive visuals to demonstrate how colorful the Land of Oz is.  However, he dwelled on it a bit too much causing it to lose some of its effectiveness.

Though Raimi loved his visuals, he did not sacrifice story or characterization for it.  The story is very simple, but for a movie like this, it is needed.  In essence, a con-man/small-time magician named Oz (James Franco) gets swept away to the Land of Oz where he is believed to be a prophesized wizard who will save the magical land.  He decides to play along so he can become wealthy as the new leader, but learns he has to destroy the Wicked Witch in order to do so.  As such, he starts a familiar journey down the Yellow Brick Road gaining friends and allies along the way.

The film has enough nods to the 1939 classic to make it familiar, but bring in some new, fresh elements straight from books by L. Frank Baum to make the production fresh and original.  Much like Raimi did with his Spider-Man series, he plants several easter eggs in the film that the average filmgoer will completely miss, but Oz aficionados will immediately pick up on.

Though I enjoyed the story, I really felt the threat-level that the wicked wiches presented was not really there until it was too far into the film.  In short, we learn that they have taken control of Oz in an almost dictatorship state, and that the people of Oz hate their rule.  This is never quite made clear enough, and when it is revealed, it comes off a bit forced.  However, in the end, it is a small detail and did not ruin my enjoyment.

Oz: The Great and Powerful has, arguably, been the first big hit of 2013, and I think that is largely deserved.  Despite its faults, the film is still pretty fun and it seems obvious that the cast is having a ton of fun in their respective roles.  I would highly recommend people checking out this movie in theaters only because the visual spectacle deserves to be seen on the big screen.  Go see it.

And, yes, I fully realize that a prequel to The Wizard of Oz has been done with Wicked.  Well, I got news for you: Wicked could only hope to be as entertaining as Oz: The Great and Powerful.  Yep, that’s right: I didn’t care for Wicked.  Deal with it.

~N

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