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.

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