Sunday, September 14, 2014

'Emerald City' show not going forward

EW reports that NBC has decided not to produce and air the drama series Emerald City. The show may air on another network, but was dropped by NBC amid "creative differences" in regards to the story.

Read the full story here.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Witches of Oz review

This weekend, I watched the full version of the miniseries The Witches of Oz, and I present herein my review of it to you. You're welcome.

The Witches of Oz is a story of the now adult Dorothy, a children's book author who discovers that her suppressed memories are actually the basis for her series of adventures she's written about Oz, and that she is actually key to a plot that involves the witches of Oz scheming to take over the land once and for all. For good this time.

That's an abbreviated version of a plot that is hard to understand or explain. Not even the screenwriter or anyone involved in the movie seemed to know where they wanted to go. Which is kind of a shame because it showed real promise.

The weak link in this story is actually the characterization of Dorothy herself. We are supposed to believe she's grown up because she has big hair, monogrammed pillows, and drinks fancy colored cocktails. Yet she seems downright childish in certain scenes, like when first meeting her book agent, where she slides on ice and runs into the side of her car, or shrugs off when she got dangerously mugged.

The film would have been far better if it actually focused on the characters in the title, the witches. Of particular interest was the character of Billie Westbrooke (a name that may be a clever homage to Billie Burke, Glinda of The Wizard of Oz perhaps, and foreshadowing to her true identity of the Wicked Witch of the West) and her arc in the story, from going from a friend of Dorothy's to a foe, and then sort of back again. But the film doesn't stop long enough to entertain even the idea of that story, with a bloated battle in New York and cramming in more unnecessary back story.

A particular highlight of the film that would have benefited with more exploration was what the Wicked Witch of the East was doing in Munchkinland. We see a piece of this all to briefly before she's squashed and focus is back on Dorothy.

The special effects aren't as bad as what was expected based on what the internet has to say, but the design for the land of Oz is just unfortunate. The Yellow Brick Road looks brown and the Emerald City hardly even sparkles, nor is it in any shade of green. That being said, the costumes are effective and the film even manages to slide in a pair of red shoes as a wink to the ruby slippers.

Still, the film is still an okay way to pass the time, for the performance of Eliza Swenson as Billie Westbrooke and some clever dialog throwbacks to the original.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Yellow Brick Mess

Here is a somewhat explosive new article detailing some of the darker, sketchier sides of Hollywood we don't always hear about. This feature story discusses some of the controversial business practices used by some people involved in fundraising and investing for Legends of Oz.

On a positive note, one of the creators mentioned plans to turn Legends of Oz into a television series.

Personally, I'm all for it, and feel that it would be greatly successful. An interesting tidbit from the article confirms what a lot of people (however negatively) thought, which is that Legends of Oz was intended to be released directly to DVD.

Legends of Oz Bluray release in August

Legends of Oz will be released August 26, 2014 on Blu-ray and DVD.

Exact specifications have not been announced, but supplemental features include:

  • Legends of Oz: The Music of Oz 
  • Legends of Oz: The Legacy of Oz Sing Along the Yellow Brick Road 
  • Legends of Oz: Activity Sheet 
  • Theatrical Trailer

Sadly, it looks like no 3D Blu-ray is planned. Amazon has it available for preorder for $19.96.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

More information on 'Emerald City'

Casting is underway for NBC's dark drama series Emerald City. They have released character descriptions. It sounds like this is going to be quite dark, and will focus on social and relationship issues.

Image from showmeyourmoves @DeviantArt

Here is a description for Dorothy:
Dorothy, a “natural beauty” with a scarred past, has “patched a life together for herself” despite her lack of self confidence. Dorothy’s “outward insecurity and lack of self-awareness hide the savior, survivor that she will discover she truly is.”

Emerald City has been given a 10 episode order, and will premiere sometime this year.
You can read the rest of the character descriptions here.

'Legends of Oz' UK Trailer

I just wanted to share this UK trailer for Legends of Oz. It's so much better than anything they showed here in the US. The great visuals and music as well as the humor (which always appeals to kids) is on full display here, and maybe with more like this people would have been more interested in it.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A new Oz feature on the horizon

The Land of Oz has recently popped up on Facebook, Twitter, and IMDB scheduled for release this year. 

It appears to be an animated movie based on The Marvelous Land of Oz, by L. Frank Baum.

Judging by posts on the movie's Facebook, it may be something created by Disney, but it's unlikely since Disney just released an Oz movie last year. 

It also seems unlikely that the movie will be released this year. There's been next to no buzz surrounding it, or even one production still, and we are halfway through this year already. Legends of Oz turning out to be such a financial disappointment probably doesn't bode well for it either. 

The film may be in final pre-production stage. Some of the cast is set, but according to the official IMDB the overall status of the film is unknown.

Hopefully we will hear some sort of official announcement soon, and won't have to wait years for another Oz movie. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

After the Wizard review

After the Wizard, a 2011 independent release telling the story of a young orphaned girl claiming to be Dorothy Gale, is a tough movie to place. It is neither a touching fantasy drama like the poster claims, or an adventure family. Watching it doesn't make it any clearer either.

It really isn't an Oz film. The Tin Woodman and Scarecrow are here along with a brief appearance by the lion and some flying monkeys and Toto, but otherwise it's really the story of Elizabeth and two adults who try to understand her. Not much happens, not much is explained, and not much is given for the reason behind this film. The idea of what happens after Dorothy's original adventures has been explored a few times already, so maybe that's why the filmmakers decided to try and tell something new.

If it was attempting to tell the story of a girl using fantasy as a way to deal with problems, it should have focused on exploring that idea, rather than having Elizabeth shout that's she's really Dorothy Gale and then try to run straight into a tornado. The movie feels suffocating, never really letter any characters develop, or action take place far beyond the depressing walls of the orphanage in Kansas.

I will say the costumes of the Tin Woodman and Scarecrow were done in an interesting fashion, a kind of steam punk version that's popular for Halloween costumes these days.

After the Wizard claims to be too much and then doesn't do much to try and prove it. Indie movie fans may find something reputable, but Oz fans need not waste the time.

Grade: C

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Lea Michele on singing as Dorothy

Entertainment Tonight posted a cool little interview with Lea Michele where she talks about singing as Dorothy in Legends of Oz and what her favorite song to sing from the movie was.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Megan Hilty announces Legends of Oz contest

China Princess Megan Hilty dropped by The View today to announce a new sweepstakes for Legends of Oz fans.

 You can find out more about the sweepstakes here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wizard of Oz festival coming to Michigan June 2014

The Yellow Brick Road is closer than you think!

The city of Ionia, Michigan, will celebrate the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz by hosting its own festival June 20-21.

The event will include character meet and greets, lookalike contests, arts and crafts, a souvenir table and more. They will also screen the classic movie for 25 cents at the historical downtown theater.

You can find out more information from the official website and check out the event guide here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Legends of Oz soundtrack review

Legends of Oz: Music from the Motion Picture, is a soundtrack that is almost as enjoyable as the movie, even if some of the songs don’t hold up as standalone music apart from the movie.

Lea Michele gives a better vocal performance on songs more suited to her than a lot of what she recorded for her debut album, Louder. Maybe this is because show tunes are her natural habitat. She is good at blending her powerful voice into a character, and you truly hear Dorothy singing instead of Lea Michele (or Rachel Berry for that matter).

Her two solos, “When the World” and “One Day” are the standouts and worth buying the CD for alone. “Even Then” completely sneaks up on the listener as a surprisingly mature love song, while it could be looked at as a song of empowerment as well. “China Princess” is notable for Megan Hilty’s vocal stylings, and for the surprisingly smoothness that is Hugh Dancy’s voice. Hopefully he sings more in the future, as it is a shame he doesn’t get more opportunity to do so here.

The fault of the soundtrack are the Jester songs by Martin Short. Without the visuals and context of the movie, they fall flat and don’t scream out as a track that would be seeked out to listen to again on purpose.
The score is whimsical and fun, and elements of it bring to mind Beauty and the Beast.

I always say the strength of good songs written for movies are that they would be applicable to someone just listening to them as good music apart from a soundtrack, and Legends of Oz has several of those: “When the World”, “Even Then”, and “One Day”. The rest can be fun for the car or long trips.

Grade: A-

Emerald City

Although no cast members or premiere date have been announced yet, a new drama is poised to premiere sometime this year on NBC titled, Emerald City.

NBC has launched a teaser website with a graphic featuring a woman running from a tornado with the words "coming soon".

Emerald City is a one hour drama from the executive producer of The Sarah Conner Chronicles, and tells the story of a 20 year old Dorothy Gale, who becomes a warrior while trying to protect a "darkly re-imagined" land of Oz.

The official synopsis reads:

Desperate for clues that will lead to the identity of her biological mother, a young woman breaks into a sinister underground facility somewhere in the Midwest. Unable to complete her mission and surrounded by security, our feisty heroine steals a K9 police dog and drives away into the night... and headlong into the path of a raging tornado. In the blink of an eye, she is transported to another world, one far removed from our own - a mystical land of competing kingdoms, lethal warriors, dark magic and a bloody battle for supremacy. This is the fabled Land of Oz in a way you've never seen before, where wicked witches don't stay dead for long and 20-year-old Dorothy Gale becomes a headstrong warrior who holds the fate of kingdoms in her hands. You're not in Kansas anymore, and this is not your grandmother's Oz.

Emerald City is currently in pre-production.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Legends of Oz deserves your time

First off, this isn't "Frozen", nor will any other movie ever be, or should any animated movie be judged against it. This movie needs to be viewed for what it is, and what it is, is pretty darn good.Let me say I do have a little bias because I love the world and story of "The Wizard of Oz", and I am a fan of Lea Michele. That being said, this was a pleasant surprise of a movie the trailer and critics don't give it credit for.

Dorothy is back in blue in "Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return".

It's true, the animation is not on the cutting edge, but remember this movie comes from an independent studio from a budget of half of what the other movies this has been compared to had at their disposal. And what they've managed to come up with is an enjoyable film. There's a nostalgic charm to the whole thing. Dorothy is brave, spirited, and fun. She's not a secret sexpot or being cutesy dumb like many female protagonists are these days. Wiser and Marshall Mallow are two fun new characters, and the Jester is an interesting while not necessarily scary villain.The filmmakers have taken steps to respect the world of Oz and hid a few darling nods to the 1939 classic. (Spoiler alert: one of my favorite moments was when the Wicked Witch of the West made an appearance.)
Some of the animated sequences are truly inspired, such as the beginning credits with the tornado sequence, Dorothy's rainbow trip to Oz, the firefly sequence, and the Jester's back story.None of the songs slowed down the action and advanced the story. Hugh Dancy had a surprisingly smooth and pleasant singing voice, and "When the World" sung by Lea Michele is a highlight of the film. There were only a few shortcomings of the movie, one of which was the end. It seemed very abrupt, with Glinda and friends basically saying thanks and goodbye and quickly sending Dorothy on her way. Bernadette Peters' voice wasn't really a good fit to the design of Glinda as well.In conclusion, "Legends of Oz" was a pleasant surprise. Oz fans will definitely enjoy it, and anyone who likes animated films will too if they give it a chance.


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