The movie centers around James Franco's Oz, who plays the Wizard with enough ham for a Christmas feast. He goes from painfully over the top to somewhat over the top and back again at regular intervals. He is so obviously pulling a fast one on the women characters that his performance is devoid of any real charm, making you wonder what not one, not two, but three ladies see in the guy.
|Oz the Mean and Pitiful.|
Mila Kunis plays Theodora, who starts out as a vulnerable doe-eyed young woman wearing her heart on her sleeve, only to have that heart broken as easily as a piece of straw after being wooed by the unsexy Oz. It's a discredit to Kunis that her Theodora is so easily heart-broken by what amounts to a middle school crush. After seeing her play the sexually unafraid Lily in Black Swan, it's clear she can deliver a more engrossing performance than what we see here. This movie is for kids, yes, but that doesn't mean it can't make us feel something.
It's not a stretch to believe that Kunis's upbeat energy and instant charm would have made her the better Glinda, while the ability for Williams to channel a deeply troubled young woman would have made her the better Theodora.
|"You shall not cast... me in the right role."|
[Beware of spoilers below!]
In a blink-and-you-missed-it downfall into "darkness," Theodora is tricked into becoming the iconic green skinned, pointy-hat-wearing villain. This is the downfall of the movie. Kunis as the Wicked Witch of the West is the worst casting choice since Topher Grace as crybaby Venom in Spider-Man 3. Heath Ledger surprised us with his take on the Joker and that unsettling laugh. Kunis' signature cackle is dubbed over with some computer generated sound effect. They give her piercing yellow eyes, frighteningly arced eyebrows, and a long hooked nose, making her look more like a super model gone wrong than an ugly witch.
If you wanted to make Kunis come off any worse on screen, then you would put her next to the ever-impressive Rachel Weisz, who plays her role as sister Evanora with devilishly smooth conviction. Each of her lines drip with sweet venom, diffusing them of their cheesiness and empowering them with a serious-yet-fun tone that the rest of the movie lacks. She's the best witch, and without an ounce of makeup.
|Weisz looking more Witchy-Bitchy than the girl in all the makeup.|
The plot is full of faux-twists and big moments that don't feel earned. It follows a path we've seen time and time again, to the point where you'll be able to predict the outcome beat for beat by the half-way point. Director Sam Raimi is known for camp, horror, and camp, and unfortunately he doesn't deliver near enough of either here. His mishandling of the female cast members reminds you that he's never given cinema any notable woman characters, while his safe approach that emphasized 3D landscapes over an engaging story reminds you that the big studio that funded this picture probably called most of the shots.