There are several Oz-related movies in the works now, one of which is Oz: The Great and Powerful, telling how the Wizard first arrived in Oz. Fans of the expanded Oz series might know that this topic was covered both in Donald Abbott’s aptly titled How the Wizard Came to Oz and Hugh Pendexter’s Oz and the Three Witches. I personally prefer the latter, although the former has some nice touches. The film, starring James Franco as the Wizard, is unlikely to follow either one, but it looks like there might be a few touches from the books nonetheless. Franco has said that he’s read L. Frank Baum’s fourteen Oz books, and Mila Kunis was actually familiar with Alexander Volkov’s Magic Land books from her youth in Russia. What the creators have read remains to be seen. Everything I’ve read says that the Wizard meets the witches Glinda (Michelle Williams), Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and Theodora (Kunis). No Mombi, I guess, unless she appears under a different name or has a smaller role. I suppose the movie-going public doesn’t care as much as I do about different people’s takes on if and why the Wizard gave the baby Ozma to Mombi. Anyway, here’s an overly nit-picky look at the trailer.
- The title itself shows some MGM influence. In the book, the Wizard identifies himself as “Oz, the Great and TERRIBLE.”
- The Wizard works for the Baum Bros. Circus. Not a subtle reference by any means, but a nice one nonetheless. Why not Bailum & Barney’s Consolidated Shows?
- “Kansas is full of good men.” Isn’t the Wizard from Nebraska, or perhaps the Nebraska Territory? Nebraska became a state in 1867, and we don’t know exactly when the Wizard came to Oz. We know he was born in Omaha, but not how long he lived there. In the MGM movie, he calls himself “an old Kansas man,” but his balloon is from the Omaha State Fair.
- Why does the other guy think the Wizard will need a top hat? Maybe that will make more sense in the movie as a whole.
- The change from black and white to color is obviously MGM-inspired, although that one actually started out in sepia rather than pure black and white. It also was not the first film to show the transition from Kansas to Oz in such a way.
- David Haglund sees the flying creature that approaches the Wizard as a baby Winged Monkey. Actually, I think it bears a certain resemblance to the Monkey-Fish from Captain Salt in Oz. Maybe it’s some sort of hybrid, but I doubt it.
- I believe Kunis is supposed to be the Witch of the West, but she’s dressed in all red, the color of the Quadlings.
Speaking of which, shouldn’t Glinda be a redhead?
- The shot of the Emerald City makes me wonder whether it’s going to be already built when the Wizard arrives in Oz, which it really shouldn’t be. You can’t really tell from the trailer, though.
- I’m glad to know that the China Country will apparently play a role. What’s interesting about that is that it also has a major part in Dorothy of Oz, which is supposed to be coming out as an animated film sometime soon.
- At 1:23, are those Man-Eating Plants like the ones in Patchwork Girl?
- The trailer ends with a severed green hand. Sam Raimi, what is it with you and severed hands? I assume the Witch of the West won’t be attaching a chainsaw to her arm, but you never know.
I’ll be sure to see this when it comes out, but it remains to be seen whether my love for the books will be an asset or a liability in my enjoyment of it.