Tag Archives: Wizard of Oz

NBC Announces 2016-2017 Primetime Schedule

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NBC has been struggling for years.  What was “Must See TV” has become “The Blacklist with a lot of shows about Chicago”.  NBC has unveiled its fall schedule for 2016-2017, and what do you know?  Another Blacklist and Chicago show (four now if you’re scoring at home).  Coming Soon has a brilliant, in-depth summary of the announcement, new schedule and an analysis of each show that I’ll post after the jump.  Of the proposed new shows, Emerald City intrigues me; the Taken series does not.  There’s a show set in the DC Universe called Powerless, and NBC icons Ted Danson and John Lithgow return to the network in new comedies.  The Blacklist is far and away the network’s best show.  I’m afraid franchising it will weaken it, though as long as James Spader keeps spouting random monologues about places he’s been, I will continue to watch with rapt attention.  Here’s Coming Soon’s breakdown: Continue reading NBC Announces 2016-2017 Primetime Schedule

Supercut: Robots in Film (From Metropolis to WALL-E!)

Michael Mirasol has created this great supercut montage devoted to robots through the history of film. From Metropolis, The Day the Earth Stood Still and classic science fiction all the way to WALL-E, The Iron Giant and Pacific Rim, we get a very cool look at the classic robots in cinema. Appropriate on a weekend dominated by Transformers at the box office.

Movie Review: OZ: The Great and Powerful (2013)

"Aren't you the great man we've been waiting for?"
“Aren’t you the great man we’ve been waiting for?”

What you take away from OZ: The Great and Powerful (hereafter referred to as simply OZ for the sake of carpal tunnel syndrome), is in large part tied to what you bring to it.  If you go in expecting the 1939 movie.  You’re going to be really disappointed.  If you go in expected a fantasy classic on the level of Lord of the Rings or the first Narnia film, you’re going to be really disappointed.  If you just wanted to see OZ again and have a good time or-probably best of all for younger viewers-have no reference to this amazing world, you’re going to have a really good time.

OZ is the story of how the wizard who rules OZ came to find himself in that position.  Over the course of the film OZ morphs from a womanizing carny to a ruler (as much as the wizard ever really does rule OZ).  This character transformation comes from his interactions with OZ’s citizens: most notably three witches played by Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz.  The film pays homage to the classic while never detracting or cheapening it.  In fact, the motivations given to the Wicked Witch of the West especially give her a much more believable and powerful motive for her hate than say Wicked does.  Not a Wicked fan. 

The effects, cinematography, art direction and costumes are spectacular.  It is a stunningly beautiful film.  The Emerald City is as you’ve always imagined it and more.  I absolutely loved how they mirrored the 1939 film by beginning in black and white and so subtly (much more so than in the trailer where they showed way too much) becoming an explosion of color and wonder as we move from Kansas to OZ.

I can’t talk too much about how good the witches are without spoiling a very clever, very tragic plot point that I thought was the film’s best moment.  Suffice it to say, you end up with a Wicked Witch with the chops and the incentive to visit havoc on OZ for sequels to come.  OZ assembles his own band of misfits as Dororthy does in the first film.  There are many parallels to be found between them, but I didn’t feel any of them were too heavy-handed.

A film this gets compared to a lot is the Alice in Wonderland film Tim Burton did several years ago.  Without reviewing that film, let’s just say there’s no futterwacking moment (sounds like a filthy German word) that tanks the entire film.  I did like the movie very much.  I’m glad they’re making more and that it’s doing so well.  I hope it inspires kids to discover the Baum novels.  I did not; however, love it for really two reasons.

The score.  I’m a movie score snob.  I’ve been listening to film scores since I had functioning ears and the music of movies makes up roughly 70% of my iPod.  Danny Elfman did the score for this and Danny Elfman is getting lazy.  Not James Horner-level lazy (don’t start me on Horner; he makes me angrier than the national debt), but whereas once Elfman had a unique voice that turned out classics like Batman, Edward Scissorhands and Big Fish; he essentially took his score for Alice and removed the chorus.  It’s bland and for a place as fantastic as OZ, you need grand and wondrous music that I don’t think Elfman can write any more.  But that’s not my biggest problem.

James Franco was miscast.  Robert Downey Jr. was originally playing the Wizard (which would have been perfect) but left over differences with Raimi.  Franco is not a suitable replacement.  I don’t think he can act.  I think he plays James Franco in everything he’s in, only modulating the level of stoner that shines through.  He’s hammy, utterly without charm and unconvincing.  That’s kind of  big problem when your movie is about his character.

It’s absolutely worth seeing and, for what it’s worth, I had the most problems of anyone in my group that did go.  It IS OZ.  It’s nice to see it again.  I look forward to returning and I hope they smooth out some of the Franco-sized issues.  Sam Raimi has said he will not return to direct so it’ll be interesting what comes next.

(7.75/10.0)

Disney Already at Work on OZ Sequel

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Despite extremely divided critical opinion (I’m reading glowing reviews and a lot of ‘meh’ reviews) and though it just came out Friday, Disney is already hard at work on a sequel to OZ: The Great and Powerful.  OZ screenwriter Mitchell Kapner is working on a new script based on the first of the fourteen books in the OZ series by L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of OZ.  And, yes, that is the book on which the 1939 classic film is based.

Variety reports, “Kapner can work with what’s featured in L. Frank Baum’s novel ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,’ which is public domain. But he can’t use any of the iconic creative additions from the original film — Dorothy’s ruby slippers, for example — as Warner Bros. owns the 1939 film.”

I haven’t seen the film yet, so I don’t know how excited I am, but OZ is a wonderful mythology that can be explored without diminishing anyone’s feelings about a classic film that came out over seventy years ago.  There are a lot more tales to be told in that land and I’m glad it’s finally being more fully explored.