We all delight in seeing our favorite books brought to life on the big screen. We cringe at casting. We scoff at release dates. All the while, we're gearing up to see if the director's vision lives up to the world we've conceived in our own imaginations. Sometimes it does...and sometimes it doesn't. We could lament the movies that don't measure up, or we could return to the books for a re-read, possibly with a slightly different mind-set. All's fair when it comes to artistic vision, right?
This week, I'm featuring the following adaptation:
Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams
Release date: March 8, 2013
Based on: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz. At first he thinks he's hit the jackpot-fame and fortune are his for the taking. That all changes, however, when he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone's been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity-and even a bit of wizardry-Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.
My 5yo daughter has been harassing me to watch Oz since they started showing the previews again on Starz, now that it's hit cable. So, since the hubby had to work late on Friday night, me and the kiddo curled up on the couch and got our munchkin on.
So far as watching with a child, that experience was great. The movie was so colorful and vibrant and Katie just adored it. And it was a pretty movie, I'll give it that. But I felt that, as far as adaptations go, it was trying too hard to be evocative in the way that Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland was, and it just fell flat, especially with James Franco in the lead role.
Don't get me wrong, I like Franco. And I can almost see why he was cast as the conman his character starts out as, but he just never felt like Oz to me. Honestly, I don't know who I would have picked for that part, though. My favorite characters were his little lackeys on his quest to find the Wicked Witch: Finley and China Girl. I've always adored Zach Braff, though. China Girl was just all kinds of adorable, and I liked how her ailment in Kansas correlated with her distressing injury in Oz, and how unlike his persona back in Kansas, Oz was able to actually help her the second time around.
I loved that the parallels that exist between Kansas and Oz are still ever-present in this adaptation. Even if this prequel doesn't hold a candle to the original movie and the emotional ties I have with it, it was still an entertaining movie. Daughter has already asked if we can buy a copy so she can watch again and again, much like I rewound and rewatched that old VHS of mine when I was a little one. 'Course, there for awhile, it was 'cause I was trying to spot that crane/guy hanging after my older sister told me about it. Yep, we were kinda warped. =)
**I have never read any of the books in L. Frank Baum's Oz series, but it's on the list. Now that I have a little girl, I think it's high time we read them together.
Have you read the books? Have you seen the movie or do you have any plans to?