The Strider had an unexpected evening off from work this week (actually, he had several off but that’s a long story I may get to in another post) and so we took the opportunity of going on a date. We’d both been interested in the Oz movie from trailers and so it seemed like a good choice. I thought chances were good that some of our readers might be curious about it too, so here’s a quick review, both from a parental standpoint and a story standpoint.
Overall, I’d give the movie a B. They tried very hard to make it clean and family friendly, which I appreciate. There were two or three swear words at the beginning of the movie, although it was clear that the person who was using them was being a complete jerk and that his behavior in that scene wasn’t something desirable at all. There was one line that was a mild double entendre, but it will *definitely* go considerably over several heads and, again, is said in a context less that is less than positive.
Perhaps the most frustrating part, as an unabashedly conservative Christian viewer, was some of the costuming choices. As my husband said, it was like they couldn’t quite decide what they wanted to do with the three queens’ costumes: make them extremely low cut, cleavage revealing, and seductive, or simply have them be elegant and a bit low. There would occasionally be sudden revealing shots that seemed to come out of the blue, and then things would be back to semi-normal. If you’re like us, you’ll be a bit frustrated by this too. In this area, if you’ve seen Ever After or any of the Jane Austen movies, I’d say it’s semi-comparable (Oz is a bit better).
The message of the movie is *very* sweet and positive. The main character starts out as an egotistical selfish con man who says he doesn’t want to be a “good man,” the world is full of “good, church-going men” like his father who worked every day in the soil ’til he died in it. He doesn’t want that… he wants to be a “great man.” And then at the end of the movie, it is made quite clear that being good for the small things and the less powerful people in life is much, much better than being “great.”
What brought the movie down to a B, though, was some of the editing and story development choices. It definitely draaaggged in several places; they were clearly making it with the hopes of heavy sales of the 3-D version, and so we got way too many long meanders through the countryside of Oz. Yes, Disney, you’re very talented; yawwwwn, yes, I’m impressed by your digital animation skills; yaaaawwwn, another field of flowers, really?! The movie could have been shorter *or* they could have spent more time focusing on character development, as they had several excellent concepts that I would have loved to see developed further.
Scariness wise: I’m not going to put an age on it, as it varies wildly for children, but I think there are several parts that are potentially too sad and/or scary for a small child to see in the theater. I’m an almost 30 year old woman and I jumped with at least two scenes (greatly amusing my husband), and this doesn’t even count some of the darker scenes without any startling effects (surveying the broken village of china town, for instance). If you have a strongly empathetic or emotional youngster, you might want to wait to show them this ’til it’s on the small screen. If your children have been comfortable with Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or the Hobbit, they’ll probably be okay with this one.
One thing I am curious about is how much of the story was taken from L. Frank Baum’s writings. I read The Wizard of Oz when I was nine, so it’s been a while and I remember very little from it. I haven’t read any of the others yet, although you can get the complete collection for Kindle for .95, so maybe I’ll do that and catch up soon.
Have any of you seen it? What would you add to my review?