Thursday, March 14, 2013

Movie Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

The story of the wizard of Oz is only known, for most folks, from the viewpoint of Dorothy through the age old movie the Wizard of Oz and the many revivals it has seen.  In the new movie, Oz the Great and Powerful, the audience sees the story from the role of the wizard who becomes the Great Wizard of Oz.  The wizard is a less than savoury man, a con artist to the highest degree, wanting to be more, but not willing to put the time and effort in to be better.  Though this kind of character isn’t new, he still seemed compelling and interesting.  When he gets whisked off by a tornado, he lands in a new world, meeting a woman who helps him to the emerald city.  Her name is Theodora, and she believes he loves her.  As a con man, he loves himself the most.  Her sister, Evanora tells Oz he must kill the evil witch so that their world can be free of her evil.  When he finally meets her, she resembles a woman he loved back in Kansas.  He soon realises that one of the two of the witches are lying to him.  The story unfolds in somewhat predictable fashion, but this doesn’t detract from the story or experience in any way.

Without giving away the end, the story ends with a perfect opening for Dorothy to arrive in the Land of Oz.  The acting was passable, at times, not as great as the breath-taking special effects.  James Franco and Mila Kunis were good, but not great.  I felt like I could hear ‘Meg’ every time Kunis got upset or agitated.  It is silly, I know, but it pulled me out of the story each time she did it.  Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams were absolutely amazing.  Both delivered what I’ve come to expect, knock-out performances.  I’m still amazed Williams didn’t win an Oscar nomination for her role in My Week with Marilyn, but such is life in Hollywood.  The story was quite good, the execution decent.  I can see why many critics felt it fell flat.  There were points where I felt like Franco was giving his trademark grin, phoning in the performance for our benefit.  Sometimes, I’m not sure I take him very seriously.  The 3D effect was incorporated well into the story, not making it seem overzealous as many kids movies tend to.  This is worth seeing, but I’m not sure I’d see it in the evening.  Many theatres have matinee specials, I’d go for that if I were you.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Movie Review: The Last Exorcism Part II

A fan of horror movies must often suffer through really bad movies to get really good ones.  The Last Exorcism was a ‘found footage’ style movie that placed viewers with a preacher who claimed that no one was ever really possessed and proved it by taking a film crew along.  As luck would have it, he stumbles upon a real possession and faces his own death as he tries to save the girl being taken by a demon.  In the sequel, we pick up where we left off, so to speak.  The possessed girl, Nell, has finally been found, doesn’t remember much of what happened and is trying to lead a normal life.  The demon who possessed her loves her and wants her back.

In what can only be typified by your garden variety low-class attempts, the story groans and sputters, leading from one predictable sequence to the next, never providing anything of interest or anything compelling save for the consistent innocence from Nell, performed quite ably by Ashley Bell.  She personifies confusion and panic in a way that makes the terrible story almost bearable for an hour and a half.  What is more disappointing with this sequel is not the heavy-handed writing, the mediocre acting or the banal acting from most of the cast, it departed so heavily from the original, save for Nell, the story almost lacked any cohesion.  The first movie was terrifying for the twists and turns, for the unpredictability.  The sequel was tired and underwhelming, the ending worthy of walking out.  Of all the bad horror movies I’ve seen, this is one of the worst.  I forgot it almost as soon as I got to my car.