Saturday, March 9, 2013
MOVIE REVIEW OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL & PHANTOM
Cindy Prascik's reviews of OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL & PHANTOM
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL
A mischievous magician gains the wisdom to become a powerful ruler after being swept away to a land of magic and mystery as director Sam Raimi and screenwriters Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole) explore the genesis of author L. Frank Baum's enduring tales of Oz. Shady illusionist Oscar Diggs (James Franco) enchants curious audiences at a Kansas circus. A self-professed con man, he's a fast-talking performer who aspires to follow in the footsteps of inventors like Thomas Edison. Oscar is being chased across the circus grounds by the rampaging Strongman when a tornado blows in and everyone runs for cover. Seeing a hot-air balloon as his only chance for escape, the illusionist jumps in and cuts himself free. Magically transported to the wondrous world of Oz, he soon encounters Theodora (Mila Kunis), a temperamental witch who surmises that he is the wizard named after their land (Oscar's nickname is Oz), foretold to fall from the sky, defeat a nasty witch, and ascend to the throne. Theodora takes Oscar to the Emerald City to meet her sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz), a powerful witch who reveals that he cannot become the rightful ruler of Oz until he's accomplished his mission. Later, as Oscar and his new flying-monkey companion Finley (voice of Zach Braff) prepare to face their fearsome enemy, they're joined by the fragile but fearless China Girl (voice of Joey King) and benevolent witch Glinda the Good (Michelle Williams), who helps them prepare for the arduous battle ahead. Together with the brave people of Oz, Oscar draws up a plan to rid the land of evil once and for all, and become the great and powerful king who will rule from his throne in the Emerald City. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Release Date: Mar 08, 2013
Rated PG for sequences of action and scary images, and brief mild language
Runtime: 2 hr. 10 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff.
Review by Cindy Prascik
Dearest Blog, today I braved the infamous late-winter cinema crowd, plus everyone with a sentimental attachment to the Land of Oz, to spend my Saturday at Marquee.
First on my agenda, and everyone else's, was Oz: The Great and Powerful.
Neither a remake nor a reboot, Oz looks at a familiar world from an unfamiliar vantage point. The Witch of the West has Wicked, now the Wizard has Oz.
Spoiler level here will be mild-ish.
Oz' primary selling feature is that it's a work of art, absolutely stunning from start to finish. Sets, scenery, costumes, makeup...I would run out of superlatives long before I could come close to adequately describing them. My cinema oooh-ed and ahhh-ed aloud throughout.
The cast is fine, neither good nor bad enough to be worth mentioning. Mila Kunis, the only one of the main cast who hasn't at least been nominated for an Oscar, is easily the best of the lot.
Annnnnnnnnnnd...that's about all the nice things I have to say about Oz. Clocking in at an extremely bloated two hours and ten minutes, at times it bored me so much I wished I wanted popcorn or needed to use the bathroom. Fans who see this hoping for even a shred of what makes The Wizard of Oz so very special will leave sorely disappointed. It's missing some of the good nature and innocence of its predecessor, to be sure, but I don't even fault it there; I suspect perhaps that's impossible to duplicate in this day and age. More importantly, it's just bad storytelling: Disney throwing money at the screen--all style, no substance--much like it's theatre counterpart, Wicked.
Like Avatar before it, Oz: The Great and Powerful is about as gorgeous a film as ever you're likely to see, with little else to recommend it. I've struggled mightily these last several hours debating a fair rating; clearly it deserves full marks for appearance (and, make no mistake, it's absolutely worth seeing on a big screen for that alone), but little or no credit for anything else, so, of a possible nine Weasleys, we'll set it right in the middle at four and a half.
The fate of humanity rests in the hands of a Soviet submarine captain whose tragic past casts a dark shadow over the present, and whose underwater craft might be host to an otherworldly entity in this apocalyptic thriller starring David Duchovny, Ed Harris, and William Fichtner. The Cold War has enveloped the entire globe, and when a Soviet submarine targets the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet for nuclear attack, it appears that the final battle has begun. But Capt. Dmitri Zubov (Harris) has a choice -- one that could pull the world back from the brink of annihilation. Meanwhile, it seems as if other forces are at work on Zubov's submarine. Now, in the depths of the South Pacific, Capt. Zubov will fight to ensure that there will be a future for every man, woman, and child on the planet. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Cast: Ed Harris, David Duchovny, William Fichtner, Lance Henriksen, Johnathon Schaech
Release Date: Mar 01, 2013
Rated R for violence
Runtime: 1 hr. 37 min.
Genres: Suspense/ThrillerDirector:Todd Robinson
Review by Cindy Prascik
Next on my agenda was the Cold War thriller Phantom.
The crew of a Soviet submarine must thwart those who would to use it for a nefarious purpose.
Dear Reader(s), I gotta tell you a little story about Phantom. Two weeks ago I saw this trailer before Snitch. Last week it opened at my cinema. This week it's down to one show a day; it's not gonna see another weekend. I am not sure how a movie like this, with this cast, sails so far under the radar (see what I did there?), but this one's all but invisible.
The most noticeable thing about Phantom is that the Soviet crew is played by a thoroughly American cast, speaking unaccented American English. While committing to the choice 100% works much better than, say, 2011's Three Musketeers--where the "French" people all spoke English with a random mix of American, English, and German accents--it's an unfortunate distraction in what's actually a pretty solid little thriller.
Ed Harris is magnificent in the lead, and the always reliable William Fichtner is solid as his right-hand man. David Duchovny is effective as the film's mysterious antagonist...is his mission just secret, or is it secretly evil?? The excellent supporting cast is fleshed out by familiar faces, including Lance Henriksen, Sean Patrick Flanery, Jonathan Schaech, Jason Beghe, Derek Magyar, and Jordan Bridges.
Plenty of twists and turns, coupled with the mission's high stakes and the sub's cramped quarters, make for a tense, exciting 98 minutes; I was on the edge of my seat for the duration. The contrived ending will likely deprive the film of any love from Serious Critics, but I enjoyed even that, despite its being overly obvious.
Odds are you're gonna miss Phantom at the cinema, so don't make that mistake when it comes to DVD.
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Phantom gets seven.
Until next time...
I know some people without brains who make an awful lot of movies!