Tag Archives: Rachel Weisz

Oz The Great and Powerful

I loved The Wizard of Oz film. The music. The colour. Judy Garland. The Wicked Witch of the West. It reminds me of childhood. The scenes where Dorothy leaves Kansas-signified in black and white- and steps out into the Technicolor world of Oz is one of my favourite cinematic moments ever.

So it’s fair to say that this prequel had a lot to live up to. Expectations are high all around and with a budget of 200 million dollars this film needs to entice the audience who holds The Wizard of Oz fiercely in their hearts.

The story revolves around a con man named Oscar (James Franco), who is a magician in a circus travelling through Kanas. While trying to escape from some people he has wronged he finds himself in a hot air balloon which-due to a tornado-takes him to Oz. There he is believed to be part of a prophecy he will be the powerful wizard who will rule the kingdom and defeat the evil witch. Can this selfish man become a hero? And which witch is the wicked witch?

At first Oscar is a difficult man to like, which is kind of the point. It does make it hard in the beginning to warm to the character or care about his journey in Oz. However Oscar (and Franco) soon won me round. This is in part due to Franco’s performance and the camaraderie he has with his new friends. He has good banter with flying monkey Finley (Zach Braff) and China Girl (Joey King).

As for the witches poor Mila Kunis is left with an underdeveloped role of Theodora. I didn’t buy her character’s transformation from naive but good hearted girl; to full on wickedness. She also isn’t scary like the original character was which is shame as Kunis is a capable actress and deserves more to work with.  The other two witches Glinda (Michelle Williams) and Endora (Rachel Weisz) fare better. Weisz seems to relish the chance to go full on evil, while Williams manages to ground a character that is basically pure goodness personified. She comes across noble and brave without crossing over into bland or boring. She also has a nice, gentle chemistry with Franco.

There are some nice nods to the original film (such as having Kanas shot in black and white). It’s a treat for fans to spot the references without getting distracted from the plot. It may not be at the same level as the original film and (like most films these days) feels too long and drags in some scenes.

Rating 3/5-It may not be a classic but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable prequel. Which is more than I could have hoped for.

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The Bourne Legacy

Matt Damon is out; Jeremy Renner is in as the latest Bourne film tells us that there was never just one.

The Bourne Legacy runs parallel to the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, we are told that because of Bourne’s actions another program called Outcome will be terminated and that includes all of its assets. When one such asset Renner’s Aaron Cross, survives an attack to kill him, he and Rachel Weisz’s scientist Marta go on the run.

The Bourne Legacy starts off slow as it establishes new characters and story for the audience to become accustomed to but picks up once Eric Byer (a phone-it-in performance by Edward Norton) gives the order to terminate Outcome.

As the new lead of the Bourne series Jeremy Renner is solid as Aaron Cross, if a little undeveloped by the script.  A bit more of a backstory would have been welcomed.  All we really know about him is that he is dependent on the medical drugs Outcome gives its participants and his determination to find more of the drugs he has lost. However he is convincing in the action sequences and has a nice chemistry with Weisz. Hopefully any future instalments will flesh out his character further.

Rachel Weisz Marta is a good addition to the series. She may need Aaron’s help to survive but becomes more adaptable and quick thinking as the film progresses and tries to help out Aaron where she can. She gives a realistic portrayal of a normal woman caught up in an abnormal situation.

What the series’ most misses is Paul Greengrass. While Tony Gilroy’s (the series writer) direction is fine the film lacks Greengrass’ pace and energy leaving the film sluggish at times.  The film definitely improves as it goes along with some good action scenes such as the tense shootout in Marta’s lab and a frenzied chase along the rooftop and streets of Manila. It was actually disappointing when the film ended as it seemed to really find its feet in the last act.

Overall this film may lag behind this year’s other summer blockbusters, but now that it’s established its new characters hopefully the next Bourne film will set pulses racing again.

3/5 Not a bad effort but hopefully enough time to improve things for the next instalment.

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