Like Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, this film shows the overpowering strength of Disney and producer Joe Roth, as they once again bury a gifted filmmaker and cast in an effects extravaganza that's strong on visuals but short on story. There are glimpses of Raimi's genius here and there, most notably in his eye-catching use of 3D. And the actors manage to inject a bit of spark into their family-friendly characters. But the plot and the relentlessly simplistic tone will only please children or undemanding adults.
At least it looks amazing. And like the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, the film opens in black and white with a Kansas-set prologue, where the womanising conman Oscar (Franco) performs as the flashy magician Oz. Chased into a hot-air balloon by an angry husband, he is engulfed by a tornado and drops into the colourful land of Oz, where people are looking for a messianic wizard named Oz to save them from the witch who murdered their king. But which witch is the wicked one? Oscar first meets the naive Theodora (Kunis), who hasn't yet decided if she'll be evil or not, then her big sister Evanora (Weisz), the steely interim ruler, and then the too-good Glinda (Williams). And even though he's not a real wizard, he might have some tricks up his sleeve that can help.
The film mixes ideas from L Frank Baum's stories with references to the iconic 1939 film, plus much more epic landscapes of Oz recreated with eye-popping digital trickery. On the other hand, the plot is formulaic and predictable, with characters who are only superficially complex and are far too obvious in the way they interact, badly underestimating the sophistication of even very young children in the audience. But the real problem is that the film is focussed on visual spectacle rather than endearing characters. The sidekicks this time are a slightly creepy-looking flying monkey (Braff) and a feisty china doll (King), both rendered with elaborate motion-capture effects that never quite seem to be there on the set with the actors.
Continue reading: Oz The Great And Powerful Review
Obviously, this is a sequel to the 2005 Paul Walker-Jessica Alba beach-bums-become-heroes movie. That film was one of the dumbest movies ever made, but it was released theatrically and featured actors of at least mediocre ability. Into the Blue 2 is a direct-to-DVD attempt to cash in on what the studio must think of as the "high-caliber Into the Blue brand," even though the original grossed a sparkling $18 million. This one stars Park Avenue mannequins who pose their way through a non-existent terrorist plot involving a nuclear warhead(!) and buried treasure.
Continue reading: Into The Blue 2: The Reef Review
Let the record also state that, while watching a bad movie, I either carry a scribble pad or make mental notes of possible pot shots that I can shoot off at the movie in my review. Since I am afforded no "possible insult" rating system, I translate the pot shots into stars. For about every ten easy insults a film gives me, I subtract a star from its rating (barring Airplane!, which is designed to cooperate with the pot shot system and thus is immune to its barbs). The Whole Nine Yards gave me thirteen pot shots. Rounding, we get our current star rating.
Continue reading: The Whole Nine Yards Review
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