My littlest sister very badly wanted to see Oz the Great and Powerful. So the ladies of my family (my mom, my two younger sisters and I) wandered off and caught it on opening night.
Oz the Great and Powerful is a prequel to 1939's Wizard of Oz, and explains how Oz got a wizard. And it's terrible. It's a modern day "climb my penis to safety!" tale. Barf.
It's getting mixed reviews...and I suppose there are some nice things I could say about it. It's pretty, and it has some really beautiful moments (the sub-plot with the China Doll is pretty excellent). The cinematography is excellent, there are some really clever homages to the original movie, and the cast tries. But that's it. For the purposes of this blogger, the film is a disaster and an incredibly regressive film for such a strong female cast.
Let's introduce our hero: Oz, the titular character as delivered by James Franco. Oz is a selfish, dishonest, womanizing schmuck. From the first scene to the last (the last, post-redemption scene) he never relents with the pursuit of sexual gratification. As far as I could tell, he never learned that he was an exploitative jackass whose shameless objectification and pursuit of women actually created the effing Wicked Witch of the West. His last scene in the film is scoring a kiss of the woman whose kingdom he just stole. Sure, he's supposed to be a redeemed anti-hero by the end of the movie, but I don't buy it - his "victory" is illusion, he's never at any point in harms way, he gets the gold and the girl (which have been his motivation the entire time), and his plan to rule Oz hinges on an elaborate hoax. Oz the Great? I call bullshit. Oz is a MacGuffin and an asshole.
So, how did he become the hero of this hot mess? Well that would be because he stole all of the thunder from Glinda (Michelle Williams). The good witch Glinda is the rightful hero of this film. She's the heir to the Emerald throne, and has been leading a rebellion for 10 years prior to Professor Doofus MacGuffin's appearance. She's also a total badass whose power, and the respect and love she commands from the people of Oz is basically the entire basis for the victories of the film. But she's been sitting around waiting this past decade for the wizard her father prophecized before his death because apparently, the heir to the throne who also happens to be a crazy powerful witch can't lead her own people to rebellion. She needs some idiot conman from Kansas to save her with fireworks. What, what? Yes, that's right - fireworks. And a projector. She's clearly loved, respected, and basically frigging amazing. But no, that's not enough - we need a dude with no powers at all that she has to beg for help to save the day, as a penis is apparently an important component to being an inspiring leader, and the only way to get written into a prophecy (seriously - do women ever show up in hero prophecies as anything other than the miracle pregnancy storage device?). Pffffffffffffft.
And...the "wicked" witches. As I alluded to already, the Wicked Witch of the West (the one Dorothy melts in the original film) is created when Theodora (Mila Kunis) is spurned by Oz the great asshole. Two small problems: her and Oz are together for a little over a day and... Theodora's broken heart is spurned on by her sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) pulling the classic "women are competitive back-biting b*tches" card). Why are the witches wicked, you ask? Well, Evanora is kind of wicked. She poisoned her way onto the throne, and seems to be a bit of a liar and kind of a fascist maniac. We never find out why she does any of this (because she's wicked, presumably), but whatever her reasons are, her wickedness is completely surpassed by the monster she creates out of her sister. Over a boy. That she'd just met. I don't even understand why she's wicked. She was totally right to be furious with Oz over being a manipulative jackass, but it was nothing that a rational person couldn't have gotten over with a bottle of whisky and some chocolate ice cream. Glinda probably would've been up for that - she herself points out that Oz is a narcissistic, selfish, liar. She just needed him to defeat Theodora (who wasn't evil before she showed up) and Evanora (even though she didn't actually need him for that, because everything required to defeat Evanora, including the epic duel part of things, was handled by Glinda herself).
Oh, and as soon as the witches become "wicked" they get UGLY. Because, of course - you totally can judge books by their covers.
The entire movie hinges on women's worlds' revolving around male figures of authority and/or men who show them sexual interest. Blergh. And, to add insult to injury, the man in this particular story is a total asshole who gets all of the credit for Glinda's badassery. Even with 3 tremendous female talents as co-leads, this movie just couldn't resist the urge to completely crap on women as powerful agents of their own destinies.
I give this movie 2 blerghs out of a possible 5 "for f*ck's sake it's the 21st century.