Oz The Great And Powerful: Disney does steampunk

March 25, 2013 in Blog, Irish Daily Star


Oz The Great And Powerful is not a re-imagining of the 1939 Judy Garland classic, but following the current trend, is a prequel.

This film focuses on The Wizard himself (Oscar), played by James Franko, far before he ever met Dorothy, and tells the backstory of how he became the now infamous Wizard of Oz.

Everyone has watched The Wizard of Oz – it’s usually shown repeatedly over Christmas – and even though you know how Oz The Great and Powerful has to end, so as to line up with it, none of the magic is lost. You will still be cheering for the good heart to overcome the greedy con-man beginnings.

Oscar claims “I don’t want to be a good man, I want to be a great one”, and bargains with God when caught in a well timed twister after narrowly escaping his cheating past catching up with him.

Theodora the good witch (Mila Kunis) meets Oscar to see if he is the famed prophesised wizard sent to save all of Oz from the wicked witch, but Oscar is up to his old tricks. Theodora falls for the wizard, and Oscar finds himself backed into a corner. Greed tempts him into pursuing the wicked witch where he meets more of the people of Oz and picks up some friends along the way.

Gil Elvgren's Riding High 1959

Gil Elvgren’s Riding High 1959

Michelle Williams is etherial and extremely likable as Glenda the good witch, and Mila Kunis as Theodora, perfectly playing her part with the smouldering playful naivety of classical pinup girl. Evanora, played by Rachel Weiss, is a let down, but Finley the flying monkey, voiced by Zach Braff, adds some much needed cynicism to modernise a potentially saccharine sweet movie.

The character stereotypes are played up by rich theatrical costumes, reflecting extremes of the dark and light within.

Disney does steampunk is the overall feel, achieved through the it’s combination of olde worlde, dapper dressing, science and technology of the time, but all through the eye of technicolour and CGI.

Grounded around the turn of the century, fans of the the genre will be happy – the film is littered with steampunk references throughout with.

This is a film to remind us why to return to the cinema rather than download and watch on your phone. 3D elements are so intrinsic to the atmosphere of Oz that to loose that would be to loose something central.

The Oz countryside is at times breathtaking. There are horses of a different colour out to pasture, snow capped peaks, sunflower fields, China town (made of china of course), and naturally – a yellow brick road.

A magician never reveals his secrets, but this wizard shows how his tricks rely on good faith – and a little razzmatazz/showmanship never hurt either.

It’s a wonderful family film with all the quintessential Disney magic – looking forward to visiting Oz no doubt coming soon to a Disney theme park near you.