'Oz: The Great and Powerful' trailer gives insight into Disney's world of Oz

'Oz: The Great and Powerful' shows more of the story of the Wizard and the three witches he meets.

Andrew Medichini/AP
'Oz the Great and Powerful' features actor James Franco as the Wizard of Oz.

The teaser trailer for Evil Dead and Spider-Man trilogy director Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful (which Disney premiered at this year’s Comic-Con) overflows with vibrant colors, zany creatures, and picturesque 3D trickery, but it does little to counter a longtime assertion – namely, that the Mouse House’s semi-prequel to The Wizard of Oz is an attempt to replicate the $uccess of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland by giving the same cinematic treatment to L. Frank Baum’s Oz literature (right down to the March release date).

A full-length trailer for Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful is now online, offering a better look at the film’s unique rendition of that land ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ (as envisioned by Alice production designer Robert Stromberg) and the human cast which includes James Franco – playing the young ‘wizard’ Oscar Diggs – as well as Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams as the three witches wrestling to control the fate of Oz (Theodora, Evanora and Glinda, respectively).

However, if the original Oz trailer left you with feelings of déjà vu dread, this new promo isn’t going to change your mind. The script from Mitchell Kapner (The Whole Nine Yards) and David Lindsay-Abaire (Rise of the Guardians) now appears to lift elements directly from Alice in Wonderland’s playbook, right down to making its protagonist the ‘chosen one’ whose arrival has been prophesied to bring peace to the film’s fantastical setting. Moreover, the CGI characters which are shown here – timid flying monkey Finley (Zach Braff) and fragile China Girl (Joey King, The Dark Knight Rises) – also resemble the celebrity-voiced/digitally-rendered inhabitants of Burton’s Wonderland, in the sense that their personalities and vocals (so far) seem somewhat hit-or-miss.

Bear in mind, the comparisons to Burton’s Alice in Wonderland aren’t meant as a condemnation on their own; after all, despite the thrashing that film continues to take from people, it has entertainment value to offer. Nonetheless, Alice did commit some major missteps – such as a noble, but misguided, attempt to flesh out the source material mythology and over-abundance of quirky CGI characters and effects – and, unfortunately, Oz seems to be repeating many of them. Thus, it’s hard to not be skeptical and suspect that Raimi’s film (much like Burton’s) could amount to another dazzling, but hollow, mishmash of muddled storytelling and technical finesse.

Here is an official synopsis for Oz the Great and Powerful:

When small-time magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) pulls one flimflam too many, he finds himself hurled into the fantastical Land of Oz where he must somehow transform himself into the great and powerful Wizard—and just maybe into a better man as well.

Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.

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