Friday, July 13, 2012

Raimi Returns With "Oz"

What I like most about this trailer for Sam Raimi's "Oz: The Great & Powerful" (a prequel/origin-story with James Franco as the Kansas con-artist/magician who ultimately becomes That Man Behind The Curtain) - apart from the indications that they're going to use a color/aspect-ratio metamorphosis for the Earth/Oz transitions a'la the MGM film's black-and-white to color transition - is the way that, despite the obvious visual connections being made to the Judy Garland version and the Disney live-action-fantasy "house style" vibe; the direction, composition, tone and especially the design of some of the creatures all immediately identify that we are indeed still getting a Sam Raimi movie...



I especially LOVE that last "stinger" shot. Apart from being another instant "from the director of Evil Dead" moment, it's a PERFECT use of shared pop-cultural iconography: Everyone in the audience who understands that this is a "Wizard of Oz" prequel instantly understands that what we're seeing is the pre-reveal (maybe even the "birth?") of one of cinema's greatest villains... The Wicked Witch of The West. In this version, all three(?) of the Oz Witches apparently start out good/beautiful, so one assumes at some point the Western one will be going green n' mean - maybe at the finale? Or as a sequel-tease?

Wanna get really psyched? Think back to The Wicked Witch in that original movie, THEN think back on how Raimi traditionally handles/depicts witch/crone creatures in his films. Awesomeness potential: HIGH.

13 comments:

Mr Fist said...

Sam Raimi and Oz? Consider me tickled........ green. (kills self).

Joshua the Anarchist said...

I'm curious as to where they take this "greatness" theme, IE what the idea of being a "Great Man" will mean to the character beyond the fact that people will start calling him "The Great & Powerful Wizard of Oz" at some point.

MovieBob said...

@Joshua,

My assumption (I don't actually know any more about this project than is available to anyone else) is that he'll probably start by using his illusionist/grifting skills to remake himself as big-shot/hero in Oz, get in over his head and screw up in some major way (probably empowering/enabling or "creating" The Wicked Witch in the process) and has to use those same skills to put things right - likely in a way that requires him to create the false "Wizard" identity to keep the peace afterward; i.e. maybe he has a plan but nobody in Oz trusts him so he creates "The Wizard" to speak in his place.

Not the most original thing in the world, but if I got a screenplay job that consisted of "write an origin-story for The Wizard of Oz that lets us call back to the Kansas/twister/quest narrative of the original AND lets him be a Tony Stark/Jack Sparrow wacky-jerk-hero OH! and make it snappy cuz we've gotta beat 'Wicked: The Movie' to the boxoffice!", that's what I'd do.

Silens Cursor said...

Four witches, actually, Bob. If I remember the original Wizard Of Oz novel properly (and not confusing it with Wicked), there were two good witches in the North and South (you never see the Good Witch of the South in the film) and two evil witches in the East and West.

Now my memory is a bit hazy on whether or not the Wicked Witch of the West started green (in Wicked, her green tint was because the Wizard effectively date-raped her mom and the tint was picked up from the drug he used), but I can bet we'll see both wicked witches from East and West in this film. Hell, odds are we'll probably see all four witches at some point.

mstieler said...

@Silens Well yeah, and in Wicked, the East Witch had no arms. However, it would all depend on which material they're pulling from. In the illustrations for the original books, the West Witch had an eyepatch, pigtails and the flying-monkey-control hat, while the East Witch looked to be a "standard" witch. Wicked had them as sisters, the originals just had them in-league with each other.

Logan Deckard said...

Well according to the prequel, musical Wicked, the Wicked Witch (who's real name is Elphaba) turns on the wizard because he concocts a large conspiracy to turn all of Oz's anthropomorphic denizens into mindless slave labor. Until uncovering this, she actually looks up to the wizard quite a bit and wishes to join him and become powerful in the arts of magic. Initially, she is only granted the name of "Wicked Witch of the West" because she has the gall to oppose the Wizard's regime.

In fact (spoilers) it's eventually revealed that the Wizard is the biological father of the Wicked Witch which because she has parents from both Oz and our world gives her special powers we see in the movie. Now, I doubt most if not any of this will actually be in the movie (I'm not sure if it's even considered canon), but it would be interesting to see the Wicked Witch portrayed as a more sympathetic character who was wrongfully painted as evil by the Wizard for opposing his ideals and later becomes "wicked" after being driven to the brink.

FigmentJedi said...

>People taking Wicked as Baum canon

Seriously? Anyway, Oz's origins are being partially drawn from the backstory we get in the books, though the witch stuff is all new.
In the books, he may or may not have had a role in forcing Princess Ozma out of the Emerald City and into Mombi's hands as Baum ended up retconning it later on as he didn't want the Wizard to be that dickish.

Lord Slithor said...

Okay, I think this is the kind of Sam Raimi film I can get on board with. It's perfect for him. Sam's strength as a filmmaker for me was his ability to be as extreme as he possibly could. He's into broad, larger-than-life, exaggerated stuff. In this way, Oz is perfect for him. I didn't think personally that it worked as well for him in his Spider-Man films, as I thought the characters that I was supposed to care about got lost in his stylized interpretation of the comic books, not to mention his characterization of Peter Parker (As other have pointed out, Maguire's Parker was more of an exaggeration of a nerd stereotype, rather than an actual person that could imagine might actually exist and we could relate to. Watching Maguire's Parker klutz around and have the universe take a dump on him just wasn't something I could identify with or relate to. I mean, Peter Parker was always supposed to have problems, but not to that extreme. Raimi made him out more to be a loser in my eyes.)

And while we're talking about comic book movies and Spider-Man and what not, I wonder how Bob must feel now that it's been confirmed that Josh Trank will be directing the new Fantastic Four movie for Fox? On one hand, I know he loved Trank and Chronicle. But on the other, this FF reboot is being made for the exact same reasons that TASM was; for purely business reasons just to hold onto the rights. And I know that was the biggest thing he HATED about that movie.

I can just imagine the smoke coming out of his ears as his mind struggles to reconcile these two conflicting thoughts. Or is he just going to throw another hissyfit and bitch about this movie as well for the next year or two and we'll be repeating this crap all over again once it comes out?

Marcomax said...

With this and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I'm starting to grow very fond of James Franco as an actor.

@Lord Slithor

Never mind.

Tony Russo said...

Maybe I'm just misremembering, but were there that many normal people in the original Wizard of Oz?

There was the Wizard, the good witch (sort of), and maybe a random guard. Everyone else was purple or a munchkin or something like that.

Tony Russo said...

Also, that firebreathing leaving the frame because it's secretly in widescreen is now my favorite thing.

Omorka said...

Hmm. The Oz books were one of my first fandoms, and I was always a little annoyed at the movie for how many people only knew it and not the books. It'll be interesting to see where this draws its inspiration from - if it's all movie-continuity and no book-continuity (we do eventually learn a little more of the Wizard's backstory, as he returns to Oz in the fourth book) I'll be annoyed.

And yes, if they go with book-continuity at all, it'll be four witches, two good, two evil. And if they can find anyone to match the energy Hamilton brought to the WWotW, it'll be a miracle - they don't let actresses like that in Hollywood anymore.

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