Sam Raimi’s latest film answers the question of just how the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz became just that. The prequel follows midwest lower-tier magician/con-man Oscar Diggs(James Franco) as he is transported to the magical land of Oz, where he must fulfill a prophecy to free the land from the tyranny of the wicked witch.
The film is filled with wonderful nods to the classic original, even down to certain story elements such as certain characters from Kansas being reincarnated in the land of Oz. James Franco is wonderful as the title character, bringing a fantastic amount of sleazy charm to the role. Mila Kunis is nice as Theodora, who becomes the famed wicked witch of the west after suffering from heartbreak due to Oz’s carelessness around women.(Stage 5 clinger, Run bro run) Rachel Weisz is delightfully evil as Evanora, and Michelle Williams is perfectly cast as Glinda the Good Witch. Zach Braff(where has this man been since Scrubs?) has great comedic timing with Franco as Frank, Oz’s Kansas assistant and then once again as Finley, a flying monkey who joins with Oz.
Sam Raimi was without a doubt the perfect director to bring this story to the screen. It’s filled with all the great things about his style: Crazy camera movement, campy sense of humor, Bruce Campbell…While also retaining plenty of emotional weight to move the story forward.
This film was a wonderful return to Oz, and one that Frank L. Baum would be proud of.