When you’re growing up, you watch a lot of things. Some of those things can float over your head, but some can also spark your interest. Whether it be a TV show that is always on repeat, or a certain movie that you can’t help but watch over and over again.
I had a lot of both. For TV, it was Disney Channel (That’s So Raven, anyone?), and for movies well it was a large compilation of films, but the one that comes to my mind when I think childhood is Wizard of Oz.
I probably watched Wizard of Oz about a million times when I was younger (not sure if it beats out some of the Disney movies though) and it never got old. I was always fascinated by this world and how strange it was. I ESPECIALLY had a fascination with the witches, (yes, I do love Wicked). When Glinda would float down in her pink bubble not only would I want to float around in that magical bubble, but I also just wanted to be her. Glinda had a presence about her that captivated me, she had such power and grace every time she popped up on screen (pun not intended) and everyone loved her.
I was also captivated by the evil Wicked Witch of the West. I know she’s supposed to be scary, and she was, but never to the point where I was covering my eyes. She was scary, menacing, and entertaining to watch. I would always anticipate the scene where the Munchkins are introducing Dorothy to Oz and halfway through WWW emerges out of the yellow brick road in a cloud of red smoke. That scene alone was something out of a nightmare. Here was this happy scene, and this happy song, then all of a sudden an explosion is followed by madness.
When it was announced that a prequel to Wizard of Oz was being released in 2013 I really wasn’t sure what to think. First thing that came to my mind was “a prequel, really? Do we need this?”. Second came the casting, James Franco as “the great and powerful” Oz? Would he be able to pull that kind of role off without it being silly? Mila Kunis seemed like a strange casting choice from the first time I read it, I always just imagine her in comedies. Michelle Williams as Glinda was the only one that seemed to truly fit.
When I finally saw the film the weekend of it’s release, my reaction after it ended was “…ehh”. Oz the Great and Powerful wasn’t necessarily bad as much as it was mediocre. James Franco ended up being pretty much exactly how I thought he would be (the silliness might have been a little bit of Sam Raimi’s doing though) I didn’t ever believe that this man was great or powerful.
The biggest disappointment for me was how this version of the Wicked Witch turned out. For some reason the movie tried to keep it a secret from us which of the three sisters would eventually transform into the green witch herself (hmm let’s see, which one doesn’t have a power or anything else to add to the plot?). The element of surprise/shock is pretty much taken away when you already know the twist. That was their first mistake, next was just the design of the witch as a whole. The Maragaret Hamilton version of the witch had a terrifying presence as well as just having creepy facial expressions. For this film they decided to go full prosthetics and to me, it’s less scary and more bad plastic surgery. I mean just look at those eyebrows! What is going on there? Maybe I was a bit mad because I felt in a way, the movie had ruined this character that I had grown up and was so menacing and threatening.
In Oz the Great and Powerful, there is so much backstory that this witch is not scary anymore, you’re supposed to feel bad for her because she gets the cold shoulder from a magician and love is HARD! That completely took away the sinister elements of the witch in the original, why did we need a love story? Did Oz NEED to fall in love with one of the witches? Probably not. Sometimes the less you know, the more mysterious and scarier.
Maybe I’m over thinking it, but this was supposed to be an addition to the movie I grew up with as a kid, and it never felt like that for me, it always felt like an annoying relative to the original movie.
A Story About A Prequel and A Sequel
I still to this day have a problem with prequels, and sometimes sequels (really depends on the movie). Prequels especially because I always feel as if it’s just a reason for the makers to get some extra cash, I already know what happens in the future so why should I watch this? It’s no secret that Hollywood will do a lot of things for money. Hollywood knows that sequels make a lot of money, specifically a sequel of a movie that made ton of money the first time around.
There seems to be a curse cast on sequels where they’re expected to be pieces of shit. Most of the time that is true, but every now and then an actual good sequel pops up. One that I think of is the recent 22 Jump Street. Not only was it a good sequel but it was the best kind, it knew what it was and it played with it. 22 Jump Street used the formula that so many action movie sequels use, copy the plot from the first movie and add more explosions.
Self aware sequels tend to be the best sequels. Another great example that is very similar to the way 22 is done would be Scream 2. Scream was a great horror flick by Wes Craven, but he decided to take it to another level for the follow up. You think high school is scary? Try college. Scream 2 is filled to the brim with a ton of great dialogue about sequels and how they operate, “There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate – more blood, more gore – *carnage candy*. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.”
At the end of the day, there are always going to be sequels and prequels to movies that you originally loved, hell, there are even prequels and sequels to TV shows that you love. People will do ANYTHING to bring back something that was loved by the audience, I think that is especially apparent today. I mean, just look at the schedule for movies to come out this summer, they’re almost all a sequel to something that came out last summer or a prequel. The lack of originality lately is a bit scary, but I think in cinema history, there are always times like these.
I do know that these type of movies will not stop me from going to the theater to see them because going to the movies is relaxing for me and makes me happy.
There’s a first time for everything, even if it’s exactly like the last movie you saw.
A Quote to End Your Day:
Phone Voice: What’s your favorite scary movie?
Randy: Showgirls. Absolutely frightening. What’s yours?
From: Scream 2