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Review: Oz the Great and Powerful, Samsara, Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away, Great Expectations and The Sweeney

By Cinema, Reviews and Wellington

Oz The Great and Powerful posterIt’s a ques­tion that has been burn­ing away inside all of us for nearly 75 years – how did the Wizard (who wasn’t really a wiz­ard at all but a car­ni­val show­man with a knack for gad­gets) get to Oz in the first place? You neither, huh? Ah well, this least essen­tial ques­tion has now been answered by Spider-Man (and Evil Dead) dir­ect­or Sam Raimi and his team of pixel-wielding min­ions. As a pre­quel to the beloved 1939 film star­ring Judy Garland and a dog called Toto, Oz the Great and Powerful is not without risk. Other attempts to recre­ate L. Frank Baum’s magic­al world have been either com­mer­cial or artist­ic fail­ures – The Wiz, for example, or Return to Oz.

Casting the human smirk, James Franco, as the car­ni­val magi­cian trans­por­ted to the land of the yel­low brick road by a hot air bal­loon (via tor­nado) is also a risk but it even­tu­ally pays off, even though Franco’s boy­ish fea­tures are start­ing to look a bit ragged. Escaping vari­ous romantic and fin­an­cial pres­sures back home in black and white Kansas, Franco’s Oz finds him­self blown off course to a technicolor(ish) fant­ast­ic­al land where a proph­ecy sug­gests he will pro­tect the peace-loving cit­izens from wicked witches but also gain con­trol of the palace for­tune. Guess which one appeals more.

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