The Wizard of Oz is one of the most well-known movies of all time. It awed a generation of movie-goers and continues to do so as newer ones come into the fold. The film was based on the children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz written by L. Frank Baum. What most people don’t realize is that the land of Oz had plenty of time to become a fleshed out world because Baum wrote 13 sequels set in the wonderful land. OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL is not based on any of Baum’s sequels although let’s hope it finds inspiration from the thousands of pages dedicated to that magical setting. It is a prequel that follows the titular character as an ambitious young magician who finds himself accidentally transported to a far off fantasy land known as Oz. There he finds that the world as he knows it no longer exists. Instead there are fairies, witches, porcelain people, violent plants and of course flying monkeys.
There’s not much going on in this trailer in terms of plot which is a good thing as it teases the world and the scope of the movie just enough to get the audience interested. Expect in the coming months to be bombarded with clips and full length trailers that pretty much give away the second and third act of the movie. Unfortunately, that is the case with marketing movies. They think we want to know everything about a movie before we decide whether it is worth our $11. But as far as this teaser goes, there are some interesting pulls. Around the 0:50 mark and through most of the teaser the background looks stunning like it was painted on. This seems like a direct homage to how the original 1939 film went about creating its lush textured backgrounds. The difference being this time that the painting is done with CGI. I’m interested to see how the look and feel of this Oz compares to that of the original THE WIZARD OF OZ. The teaser touts that the film has the talents of “the director of the SPIDER-MAN trilogy” and “the producer of ALICE IN WONDERLAND.” I hope for our sake that the film is more Sam Raimi and less ALICE. When Raimi is given creative freedom his instinct for visual panache comes to the forefront (SPIDER-MAN 2, THE QUICK AND THE DEAD, DARKMAN, EVIL DEAD franchise). Given his fallout with Columbia Pictures over where to go with SPIDER-MAN 3 and its sequels Raimi jumped ship and is working with Walt Disney Pictures for OZ (Columbia forced him to add Venom when he thought the story wasn’t ready for him. As you know he didn’t return for a fourth which led Maguire to stay away as well which lead to the reboot that is in theaters now). I would assume that in order to avoid a repeat fallout he made it crucial to have more creative freedom for this project. All this is to say that I hope despite spending oodles of money for OZ that Disney look at what is good for the telling of the story over diluting it to fit a four quadrant demographic.
There is a lot of talent in front of and behind the camera that I am quietly optimistic for this one once it crash lands into theaters on March 8, 2013