Oz the Long and Predictable

As prequels go, Oz the Great and Powerful was better than all three Star Wars prequels put together, but you don't need a flying monkey to clear that particular bar.

This film committed two unpardonable sins: first, it was boring. Second, it hurt my eyes.

Let's start with number two. I saw this in 35mm, plain-old 2D, and I could tell that many of the scenes were shot to take advantage of 3D. Unfortunately, some of those scenes seemed out-of-focus, and I got a headache trying to lock in on the scene. This happened fairly early in the film, as our protagonist is staring about in wonder, so I couldn't help but ask myself whether he was being injured by the glorious brilliance and beauty of the land of Oz,and Sam Raimi wanted us to feel that too.

On to the boredom: The story is a pretty good one, but every scene seemed to go on too long, or too slowly. I loved the rich visuals, but this did not need to be a 130 minute movie. Ninety would have sufficed, and a hundred would have allowed a bit of luxuriating in the scenery.

Finally, while I'm sure James Franco has delivered the goods in films of his I haven't seen, to me he always looks like he's acting. I don't believe him. When he acts, I see "acting," not the character I'm supposed to see. In Oz the Great and Powerful he plays a carnival magician and con man, which means Sam Raimi told him "act like you're acting." So of course he acted like he was acting like he was acting, and I was unconvinced the whole way through.

Kids might like this film a lot. It's colorful, adventurous, and has just the right amount of scary in it. But I'm certainly not going to spend money going back and taking mine. They can wait for Redbox. Boredom is high crime in my rating system. Oz the Great and Powerful is at the bottom of my list so far for this year.