To avoid disappointment I left over thirty years of maturity and cynicism at the door of the cinema (in a surprisingly small imaginary bag). This was in an effort to recapture the thrill instilled in me by such characters as the Child Catcher in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and Margaret Hamilton from “The Wizard of Oz”. When I asked for the ticket to “Oz” the inner child hoped that a magical door would open and I would be transported to the land itself.
Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs known in Kansas as The Magician Oz leaves a trail broken hearts, angry fathers and conned audiences behind him. Oz wants to skip being a good man and go straight to being famous and rich. When he finds himself the prophesised saviour of the Land of Oz with the promises of untold fortune he thinks he is made. But he first has to rid the land of the Wicked Witch. Will he con his way out of this?
As you would expect the special effects are spectacular. Disney has brought Oz to a new level while keeping the same atmosphere as the original.
The major problem here is that Oz is not a very nice person and unlike the wholesomely naive and adorable Dorothy from the original his goal is to skip being good and be great. But his complete lack of respect for women lets him down and sets up a huge moral mountain for him to climb. James Franco comes across as too sleazy and morally ambiguous to be able to reach the top and while he does somewhat redeem himself not enough in the eyes of this inner child.
Seeing as Disney have taken a loved story to prequelise they manage to steal from their own iconic movies, Mila Kunis makes an entrance like a classic Disney Princess even she peers at Franco with her hair covering one eye as we have seen many a time before. Rachel Weisz’ character uses an apple much like the well-known scene in Snow White but comes across as a bag of insecurities and Michelle Williams is more simpering than good.
The loyal side-kicks, Finley and China Girl, seem to be the only ones who are trying to recapture the magic of the original.
While the finale is very impressive it takes far too long to arrive or at least there is not enough in between to hold even the attention of my inner child.
The message I got from Disney is that girls are push-overs for a charmer but if you cross them the scorn will be on a biblical level.
But you don’t have to trust my inner child. A group of children sat close to me in the cinema, they chomped on their sweets, played on their chairs. Besides a few (cheaply gained) giggles, not once did I hear an oooh, ahh or any other reaction from them. They left the cinema in silence.
Check your local Irish Cinema here