The year only just moved into April and here I am already having seen the worst film of the year (or so I seriously hope). Oz: The Great and Powerful is a film that has almost nothing going for and plenty going against, yet somewhat confusingly has managed to garner mediocre reviews from the public and critics alike that are far in excess of what this film deserves. Thankfully the other viewers in my cinema were not so forgiving, with about ¼ leaving before the film was over. I would have loved to have joined them, but figured I couldn’t fairly label this “The Worst Film of 2013 (probably)” if I didn’t sit through the whole thing.
There was a point about 20 minutes into this film where James Franco has landed in Oz, met Mila Kunis and the two begin their journey back to the Emerald City. They stop to camp overnight and I couldn’t help but think “surely Mila Kunis hasn’t been wandering in the wilderness for days. Why can’t they just go back to the city the way she came?” This was the point I lost my suspension of disbelief, and there was a lot more of the film to come.
This film has almost no plot to speak of. Because as far as I’m concerned a plot requires something to happen that advances the plot AND wasn’t obvious from the first frame of the film. Nothing that happens in this film fulfils both those criteria.
Among the many bafflingly stupid things that this film does, none is more so baffling to me than the way this film references the original Wizard of Oz movie. The start is in sepia which switches to colour when we enter Oz; Oz himself is transported by a twister; there’s a yellow brick road; references to scarecrows, tin men and lions; the list is endless. Clearly the film makers assume that we know and love the original film. Which is why it makes zero sense that they wait until the second half of the film to tell us that Glinda is actually a good guy. Seriously? That’s your big reveal? Anyone who has even the vaguest knowledge of the Wizard of Oz will have realised who was good and bad simply from looking at the posters. And yet the film treats this revelation like it’s a surprise.
Such a shame too that so many good actors do such terrible jobs with what they’re given in this film. Bad writing alone can’t explain this, there is some crappy acting at work here too. Michelle Williams is probably the best, but even she is left with a pretty one-dimensional character to work with. James Franco looks like he’s just doing it for the money. And Rachael Weisz and Mila Kunis are nothing short of embarrassing to watch on screen.
Dearest movie gods, I’ve already labelled this The Worst Film of 2013, please let this statement remain accurate. Firstly because I really don’t like being wrong, and secondly I don’t think my cinephile heart could take it to sit through another clunker like this one.