Not the first trip back to Oz but the most well announced arrival of the wizard who happens to look best in green. Oz the great and powerful is the film which tells the story of a petty conman travelling as a small time magician, who finds himself transported to the world Oz via a tornado collision. After a crash landing, the conman finds himself face to face with Theodora herself a witch, who believes the man in front of her is none over than the prophesied wizard who will save them from the wicked and dark forces lurking in the shadows. Promised all the gold in the fabled Emerald City, Oz sets about on a journey up the yellow brick road, though when it comes to sitting the throne Thedora's sister Evenora informs the would be wizard that if he really wants the throne, he'll have to defeat the wicked witch. With greed in abundance, Oz sets out to earn his gold but along the way both the companions he makes and the trials he faces shape him into something that resembles the wizard that the prophecy fore told.
James Franco takes the top hat and the throne of the Emerald City as the titular Oz who puts aside his days of old school trickery to try and save the world magical world from the quarrel of witches. While Franco may not have the same background as the colourful and magical films you'd expect from someone landing the role, when it comes to sheer playful and shallow nature of Oz before his journey and the endearing and likeable twist Franco suits both roles comfortably enough. Keeping Franco at bay are a trio of witches, some wicked and some good. Thedora played by the stunning Mila Kunis is the first witch to appear before our wizard and the one most out for love, and arguably the one who has the greatest change over the course of the film as emotions begin to spiral. Rachel Weisz takes the role as sister to Thedora, Evanora who sits comfortably in the Emerald City as the Royal Advisor (In the Disney universe no one is more trusted than the royal advisor... Here's looking at you Jafar) who watches the wizard closely as she sends him on her own personal mission to slay the wicked witch, Weisz's performance is admirable but at times lacks the grandeur you'd expect. Completing the trio is Michelle Williams as Gelinda, who may not be as wicked as she's first made out to be, leading the wizard's goose chase to an end. Williams is arguably the most enjoyable performance of the trinity, feeling well at home with the Disney fairy routine. While not the lynch pin of the film, but definitely part of the heart comes in the form of Joey King's China girl and Zach Braff's amusing turn as monkey doorman Finley.
As far as Disney's live action catalogue it's fair to say they've never truly been as successful as their animated side, yet never the less they always invoke some kind of entertainment in audiences. While not being buried down by the classics success, Oz the great and powerful is equal measure a prequel and homage to the Wizard of Oz. Some would say even Disney would have bitten of more than they could chew when entering the world of Oz, others would say it could never live up to the original classic, both would be wrong in a way This film while very neatly keeping it's ties yet altogether firmly creating it's own clever and well presented story in the hands of Sam Raimi, it never tries to out do the classic but embraces everything that was so enjoyable add even more colour some zany twists and gives us albeit not a classic but a very much enjoyable journey once more down the yellow brick road and an origin story for arguably one of cinema histories biggest movie wizards. Oz, is itself a light hearted, family fun flick and one that doesn't take itself too seriously remembering that it's for children of the 21st century and yet still catering justly to the classic fans. Whether it's been far too long since you were off to see the wizard, want to introduce a new audience to the magical Emerald City or altogether just fans of Sam Rami from entirely different works (One of 'witch' springs heavily to mind in the final act) Oz the great and powerful is one to watch.
7 / 10