It was quite a while ago when Sam Raimi signed off on “Evil Dead,” a fun and uninhibited film that inspired many more and earned its author his reputation. Today, after the mid-air explosion of his Spiderman franchise Raimi turns his creative powers to mythology again with “Oz the great and powerful,” which was released in theaters earlier this month. And at the same time he sacrifices himself on the altar of the big-studio God (which is now everywhere, lest we forget).
After a prologue rendered pleasantly in black and white, the screenplay, and the film, suffer. Apart from James Franco–here credibly performing a rogue and charismatic magician—and some awesome bird’s eye view imagery of Oz, there isn’t much more else. Nothing else, in fact. Raimi somehow manages to do worse than Tim Burton with “Alice in wonderland.” Between the sentimentality and flatness of the history, “Oz” is a compilation of the worse that this kind of movie can offer. Raimi’s to-do list is made complete by the trivial and the stereotypical, down to a cutesy critter whose purpose is to turn your heart into brioche) not to mention the uglier side of an aesthetic bias which sees Mila Kunis transformed into a wicked shrek-colored witch.
As far as any ambitions to tell an epic story, there are none to mention. Everything feels false, as if we were not expected for a second to believe any of this could happen. “Oz” seems packaged to meet the expectations of a young audience hungry for memorable 3D images who will then drag parents down to the local Walmart for the coveted merchandising products.
Once you know that episode two is in preparation, you feel entitled to ask “how far will Hollywood go?”
It’s almost as if the screenwriter’s strike was still on.