(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing a poster for the musical "Wicked")
Doug (vo): Hey, you remember "Wicked"? That Broadway show that took the world by storm by looking at a popular story and giving it a new point of view? (Posters for "Mirror Mirror", "Snow White and the Huntsman" and the recent incarnation of the Wicked Witch from series "Once Upon a Time" are shown) And...everybody has been trying to rip off in one way or another recently?
(We are then treated to trailer clips and screenshots from "Oz the Great and Powerful")
Doug (vo): Well, now we have Disney's version! Uh...one of many. But this is one that actually takes place in Oz, too. It's "Oz the Great and Powerful", an imaginative take from director Sam Raimi, who mixes imagination and wonder with...awkwardness and...a lot of clumsy choices.
Doug (vo): A magician, played by James Franco, wants to make a name for himself by doing great things, but he just can't seem to get off the ground. Well, one day, he literally gets off the ground with a balloon, gets sucked away into a storm and wakes up in the Land of Oz. He, of course, comes across some interesting characters and some interesting baddies, and he tells everyone that he is, in fact, a powerful wizard. By using his illusions and a salesmanship, he convinces everyone he can do great things, and, for the most part, everybody believes him. But soon, an evil witch, played by Rachel Weisz, tries to use his tricks to her advantage, while also using her sister, played by Mila Kunis, by manipulating her romantic interest in him to fulfill an evil plot.
Doug (vo): Okay, so what are the good things? Well, as you'd imagine, especially being a Sam Raimi film, it is very visually interesting. Some of these backgrounds look a little repeated, like we saw this in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland or Lord of the Rings, but then you get some really cool scenes, like the opening is done in a different aspect ratio. This is obviously supposed to be very similar to the trick they did in the first film, where it starts off in black and white and then it goes to color. Not only does this start out in black and white, but it's not in widescreen. And even when it's not in widescreen, they use the 3D effects very cleverly, like when someone shoots fire out or throws a hat. It actually goes outside the boundaries.
(An arrow points to the hat actually flying out of the black and white screen)
Doug (vo): And it works more to its advantage when you travel to Oz and they go to widescreen and you see how vast and gigantic it can be. Sometimes, I have to admit, it does kind of capture the spirit of the original Wizard of Oz.
(Several stills of the China Girl are shown)
Doug (vo): There's a wonderful scene where he comes across this little China Doll and tries to glue her back together. Everything about this scene is...gah...for lack of a better word: magical. It's just a magical, wonderful little moment. The music, the pacing, the acting, the effects, the effects are unbelievable here. You really feel like this thing is alive. It's a really charming, tender moment that I really wish the rest of the film was like. But sadly, it isn't. It just kind of feels like some choices were made that shouldn't have been made.
(The main character is shown)
Doug (vo): James Franco can be an unbelievably good actor, but he seems kind of miscast here. I feel like there should've been someone a little older or a little bit better at being a fast-talker. He just kind of looks like a guy who's trying to play a con artist, not an actual con artist himself. The whole film, as you'd probably imagine, is building up to the classic "liar revealed" story, and I hate these stories. I think we're all so sick of it. I think we put up with it more if tons of creative stuff was coming, and, yeah, there are some really creative scenes. But story-wise, it goes the route you think it's gonna go and, yeah, the whole time you're watching it, you're thinking, "Huh. Wasn't this done a lot better in Wicked?"
(Theodora, the Wicked Witch of the West, is shown in several clips and stills)
Doug (vo): And, speaking of which, let's get to the ultimate blunder in this movie: Mila Kunis as the Wicked Witch. Oh, Lord, this is a good actress. She can do good stuff. But this is completely the wrong choice. It's like having William Shatner as Hamlet or Leonardo DiCaprio as the Mask. Just some things don't go together, and you know they're not gonna go together, but you kind of hope. It's like Michael Keaton and Batman, like everyone thought it wasn't gonna work, but maybe it'll play out, maybe the director saw something that nobody else saw. But, no. The makeup is ridiculous, the voice she has isn't dramatic and it isn't intimidating. It just looks like a little girl dressing up for Halloween and screaming, "I'm the Wicked Witch! Believe me! I'm the Wicked Witch!" It's hard to watch, like, really hard to watch. And like I said, this is a good actress, she has tons of other work to her credit. This just isn't gonna be one of them.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): The majority of feedback I hear on this movie is mostly really negative, like people not only dislike this movie, they hated, they just thought it was the pits. While I think some scenes are, I can't quite go that far. The "liar revealed" story is painful, but the rest of the setup I thought was actually kind of clever. If given a little bit more focus and a few different choices made, I think this could've been actually a really good story and a downright really great film. But as is, kind of like the Spider-Man movies, they're well-intended and creative and visually interesting, but they're just kind of awkward. The moments that work are really great moments, the ones that don't are just kind of uncomfortable. I guess I wasn't expecting that much. I mean, I wasn't especially excited for this movie. So maybe there wasn't as big a disappointment for me. I'm still glad I saw certain scenes, I liked some of these creative characters, I like when they're flying in the bubbles, I like when he's putting the China Doll back together, I like some of this imagery. But clearly, some of these casting choices should've been moved around, some of the dialogue could've been a lot more clever, the pacing in some moments could've been a little tighter, which leads to an obviously good-intentioned, but still clumsy movie. If you're in the mood for some good visuals and a couple of nice scenes, I'd say this isn't that bad one to check out. But if you're in the mood for something that's much more complete and put together, I say, you're probably gonna need a lot more glue.
(The film's title is shown)