This probably was one of the more anticipated movies of 2013 because of its concept and director involved but does it also deliver? I would have to say no to that.

The movie is stuck somewhere between being a colorful fantasy movie for kids and an adult fairytale. It never really manages to find a good balance between its entertainment and its more dark and serious aspects. Not just with its story but also with its characters. All of the sidekicks are basically, childish, comical characters, of which most are CG animated as well. The 'human' characters are still the movie its main focus but it's just too bad that none of their story arcs ever convinces well enough.

Why would Oz want to be king of Oz instead of trying to get back to the real world? Why would Oz need a king in the first place? It's not like the land is in war or chaos. And why would the witches suddenly try to take control of Oz, once an adversary drops out of the air? They had plenty of time and opportunity before that, you would think. It are questions like this that the movie never answers. It doesn't handle its story well- or convincing enough and it's focusing on the wrong things at times.

It for instance also bothered me how this movie can basically more be seen as a romantic movie, with an underwhelming love-triangle kind of romance in it, as opposed to an entertaining, marveling, adventurous epic, set in a strange world, filled with fantasy objects and characters. Nothing against romance in movies of course (well, most of the time it doesn't bother me) but it just feels odd that it's the story its main focus, for most of the time. The main focus should have been on its adventure and entertaining aspects but the movie instead prefers to have other distractions to it, that divert from the movie its entertainment. I mean, why bother to spend $200,000,000 on sets and special effects, if you are not going to use it well and focus on other things instead. Things that you basically could have done for free as well!

OK, I'm of course somewhat exaggerating but point remains that the movie isn't half as adventurous and entertaining you would expect and hope for. It's the foremost reason why the movie feels like a slight disappointment.

It really reminded me off Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland", not just visually but also story-wise. It besides suffered from most of the same problems; it doesn't really ever uses its fantasy aspects in a very creative, impressive or entertaining way. The story and character motivations are too simplistic and shallow. Both movies attempt to be more serious and adult type of fairy tales but without ever pulling you in to its fantasy world, or without making you feel involved with any of the characters, that are in it. Both also really don't have a clear- or strong enough main conflict in it. It lets stuff just happen and expects its audience to simply go along with it. Well, I'm just not falling for that!

Perhaps the movie would had been better and more involving to watch for me, if it had a better main characters in it. I'm really not putting any of the blame on James Franco for this but his character isn't always written in the most sympathetic (after all, he's a con man) way and as mentioned earlier, there isn't really a good enough character motivation for his Oz character in this. The one moment he want to be king, the other he tries to get out from under it. The one moment he sympathizes with some of the movie its character, the other he is just being selfish. The story keeps doing stuff like this with his character, all throughout, making him just not the ultimate hero or right type of protagonist for this type of movie. He should have been a bigger anti-hero really. It would at least made him a more likable character and his story arch probably a more involving and convincing one as well.

But really, the same can be said for basically every character and actor in this. It's hard to say whether or not most of them are miscast in their roles, or if all the blame could be put on the movie its writing instead. I'm still leaning more toward the latter, knowing how great most of the actors in this normally are, in other movies.

A too shallow and not involving enough fantasy experience, that besides is lacking some good enough entertainment in it.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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