“I don’t want to be just a good man. I want to be a great one.”
James Franco plays the famous wizard whose real name is Oscar Diggs as Disney adapts L. Frank Baum’s famous novels and “prequels” the classic 1939 musical The Wizard of Oz. This fantasy film impresses with the young cast while the set design, visual effects and costumes make this entertaining epic right in line the classic that starred Judy Garland as Dorothy.
No Dorothy in this Disney-produced prequel that was filmed on immense soundstages at Michigan Motion Picture Studios. Director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man film trilogy) creates environments and scenarios amid a challenging format where filmmakers cannot use elements too close to the original film (Warner Brothers owns the rights).
Creatures that fill this fantasy story include Winkles, Tinkers, Quadlings, and the familiar Munchkins. Franco anchors the film well beginning as a well-meaning local magician who is then tested against several elements as he arrives in this new world.
The female lead characters are especially strong. Mila Kunis plays Theodora while Rachel Weisz plays Evanora and Michelle Williams plays Glinda plus Joey King voices China Girl. Screenwriters create plausible tension and emotional connections among these character and Diggs for a
The story has a somewhat awkward beginning, but really takes hold quickly as filmmakers, the cast and crew succeed in this highly recommended (***1/2) film that is rated PG for sequences of action and scary images, and brief mild language.