Oz, the Great and Powerful is a good family film…

Unfortunately, that is my highest compliment.  Although Oz, the Great and Powerful succeeds in pleasing their demographic–I was left wanting.  With that said, I am sure many will love this film and kids (especially) will enjoy the story and beautiful imagery.

First of all, I should state that I like The Wizard of Oz, but I am not a fanatic about it.  The new Oz follows its lead in being a wholesome family film, but it does not even get close to its classic status.  While some felt that Disney was taking a gamble in trying to reboot a beloved classic, it seems to have paid off for them (sequel is already in the works).  Hey, they have to make the $$$.

So, why wanting?  For me, it was a bit one dimensional.  Everything looked great and paid homage to the original (more based on novel, than the 1939  film because of property rights)–but it was just…flat.  I did not care for any character on-screen.  I was never invested.  It’s just pretty.

The cast okay.  Again, no stand outs.  James Franco was fine–but could’ve have been more con-artist-y or shady, that way his arch was more believable.  Rachel Weisz was good–but it felt like she was limited.  Mila Kunis was wasted–that character had SO much potential, yet it was all too fast–too rushed.  Michelle Williams had more screen time and yet, her character too is so shallow and simple.  The CG sidekicks–Zach Braff as Finley (the monkey) and Joey King as China Doll were, again, okay.  See, not much to get excited about it.

Well, there were the cool special effects–the opening sequence was pretty sweet.  I appreciated the black and white tribute and then the use of introduced characters in the Oz world (a salute to the original).  Ummmm… I’m thinking…I’m thinking…I liked the land of Oz–the poppy fields–the different citizens–the flying baboons (much more scary than plain monkeys).  Yeah.  I think that is it.

Everything my daughter and I thought of that could have made this film better, would have changed the safe PG rating and possibly alienated some.  But hey, in defense of a PG rating–Pixar and Disney have been extremely successful in providing clean, safe entertainment that also has substance and is able to keep an adult’s interest.  So, then it just boils down to a lackluster script and unfortunately, director Sam Raimi‘s choices.  What a shame.  I am a true Raimi fan and was looking forward to this, just because of him.  Deep sigh.

Bottom line?  It’s not bad.  It’s not awesome.  It’s okay and kids will like it.  That’s it.

 

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My poor friend, Fogs over at Fogs’ Movie Reviews, is subjecting himself to cruel and unusual torture by watching the ENTIRE Twilight Saga in one day!! I feel for his pain, but he is past #3 and his live blogging of the films has been AWESOME!! Frackin’ Hilarious!
If you have some time go check it out–it is fantastic fun! Stay strong, Fogs…we are enjoying this too much. 😀

Fogs' Movie Reviews

TTT

Ok folks. Here we go. I’m about to embark on this… ridiculous stunt epic adventure.

We’re not off to a good start, I overslept by an hour or so in a show of procrastination and protest, but I’m doing it. I’m headin’ right in to start this puppy up. The next time I post here, I’ll have watched my first Twilight movie! Woot!

I did want to quickly say that although I welcome comments and discussion as always (of course), I wont be able to reply right away as I usually do. I’ll be occasionally checking them out as they come in, and circling back tomorrow to be sure I caught them all, but there’s no way I can reply as we go and still get through all five movies, plus an accompanying blog post, in one day! I’m sure you can understand.

Alright! That’s it. I’m going in! Wish me…

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Snitch is better than expected–not that my bar was that high!

I love Dwayne Johnson!  He has presence, charisma and a million-watt smile.  Born to be an action movie star, for sure!   And yet, his “family friendly”  choices have left most of us dreading some of his films–but when action is mixed in, it usually turns out fun–most of the time.  With Snitch, Johnson throws us a curve ball–a drama, with very little action, and it works.

The trailer is a bit deceiving–and necessarily so–fans of The Rock demand action!  Well, they will get a little–but definitely not enough to make sure there would be repeated viewings.  Yet, I liked it.  Maybe because I want Johnson to do well.   😀

This story is based on true events and is interesting, although a bit too after school special in areas.  Writer/Director  Ric Roman Waugh does a decent job with the material–but it is pretty standard and at times, he appears to be in over his head (especially with tense and action scenes).

What saves the film from disposable trash, are the performances–Johnson holds his own (I hope he gets more dramatic opportunities) and is able to make you believe that he is a normal, average dude–that can in no way snap your neck with one hand.   😀  Side note:  I think that is going to be his biggest obstacle–playing the everyday man–what works well for him are the Rundown (which I love!) sort of characters–NOT the everyday man, but everyday man desires and behaviors.  Otherwise we will always snicker a bit–especially when he could easily kick all sorts of ass!  Can you smell what the Rock is cooking?? LOL!

Yet it is the supporting cast that shines here.  Barry Pepper–where have you been?  I’ve missed you.  Jon Bernthal is perfectly cast (SHANE!! Shout out).  Michael K. Williams is a badass, per usual (OMAR!! Shout out).  Susan Sarandon is great and Benjamin Bratt even shows up.  Yeah…they keep you invested throughout.  I believe with a lesser cast this could have failed.

So, thankfully–in part to good casting and a solid premise–Snitch turns out to be decent entertainment.  Gives me hope for Mr. Rock–keep it up.  (But, who am I kidding?  I would go see him no matter what.  😀  Except for Tooth Fairy..I DID NOT see that–and never will. -_-)

 

SNITCH – Trailer – YouTube

 

 

Life of Pi is interesting and beautiful, but doesn’t quite resonate…

Maybe it was underwhelming because I’ve read the book.  I am not completely sure, yet while Yann Martel‘s novel Life of Pi, was able to truly explore faith, religion and human nature–I felt like Ang Lee‘s film rushed through most of the abstract themes and ended up being a beautifully illustrated, interesting story of survival–that was neither spiritual or emotional.

Visually it is stunning.  Not sure how much is CG (it seems like a lot)–but either way it is spectacular.  The rendering of the animals is very well done–although, there were a few “fake” looking moments, it was not enough to ruin anything.  The acting by the three young actors, who play Pi, are strong and suit the role.  Yet, I did not ever feel connected to Pi or the tiger–I was ready to shed some tears that never materialized.

Lee’s direction is adept and he weaves a captivating story–but he allows for too much exposition in some areas and for me, it took away some of the power.  I felt this to be the true with the ending–it was the ultimate “let me explain this…just in case you do not understand”.  Storytelling, at its best, allows for the audience to form its own opinions and should not result in spoon-feeding all the little details.  I guess they thought it would be too confusing.

Bottom line, I loved the novel.  I was taken on a journey of self-discovery and faith.  With the film, I almost felt cheated.  Lied to.  Weird, I know.  Instead of being a story that would make me believe in God–it ended up being a film that made me believe in the magic of cinema–not bad, but not the experience I was hoping for.

Life of Pi Trailer 2 Official [HD 1080] – YouTube

 

Side note:  Life of Pi  won 4 Oscars last month and I could not be upset or happy because I had not watched it.  Now that I’ve seen it, I must say that I have some issues with the some of the wins–especially for the Best Director.  Yes, it was well done–nicely paced and seamless F/X–but in 2012 there were several directors (Affleck, Tarantino, Anderson, etc.) that deserved it more.  (Just my opinion.)