First Hit: Wonderful visuals don’t make up for a too long script.
This film had a lot going for it from the opening credits but faded as the story unfolded and became too long and overly complex.
The square format black and white opening was exquisite. Watching the cutouts of images with names and words in this old fashion looking way was very inviting. Then the film stays in this black and white format (Remember Wizard of OZ) until OZ (James Franco) lands in OZ.
The screen grows slowly out of the square format into today’s large format and in beautiful color. The 3D was done well enough to not be distracting except when the spears went through the smoke. The story is about a traveling carnie con-man who seduces women with magic. While escaping a jealous husband, he gets thrown into OZ via a tornado.
While in OZ and despite his con-man ways, Glinda (Michelle Williams) believes in him to save the Land of OZ from the wicked witches. One saving grace for this film is the china/porcelain girl. Her expressions and movements were a phenomenal result of the CGE.
Franco is good enough as a con-man who wants to do good but the overlong and complex storyline and lack of focused direction didn’t do him well. Williams was good in two roles – as OZ’s real world girlfriend Annie and the good witch Glinda. Mila Kunis (as Theodora) was OK and felt there was more she could have given to the part. Rachel Weisz was better as Kunis's sister in her role as Evanora. Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire wrote an ambitious script that was too long and overly complicated. Sam Raimi did an OK job directing what we saw but he needed to reign in the story and simplify it. Lasting 130 minutes, it was about 30 – 40 minutes too long.
Overall: Although this story is pre-Dorothy’s (Wizard of OZ) visit and is clearly a prequel, it lacks the engaging magic.