A fabulous female cast (and James Franco) can’t save this lush-looking prequel to the legendary Baum story being a disappointment.
It’s also jarring, as his immortal Evil Dead 2 is re-released on Blu Ray, to see how far from his roots, and interesting film-making, director Sam Raimi has gone.
Franco is a young, arrogant, struggling magician who finds himself tornadoed to the land of scarecrows, tin men, witches and Emerald cities, where he must face up to the demons within himself, namely to stop being a philanderer and be a decent human being.
Visually stunning and with some great use of 3D, there is much to enjoy, individually, but it all fails to hang together and with certain restrictions based on the copyright from the 1939 classic, there are some omissions that are keenly felt.
Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz are all clearly having a ball and deliver some much-needed nuance, especially as Franco shows himself repeatedly incapable of it.
As a result, his Oz fails to win over our empathy.
It’s admirable that folks want action star du jour Jason Statham to tackle some meatier content, and it’s frankly awesome that they have gone to the incomparable crime writer Donald Westlake as a source but there’s just so much here that’s plain wrong.
Statham is Parker, a strangely principled criminal, hard and driven and a man not to be crossed.
Parker is left for dead and robbed by so-called friends and crew.
He teams up with a girl on the inside, Jennifer Lopez, to get the scoop on their next job. Cue cross and double cross, lust and double lust.
The casting of J Lo seems to be based on her brilliant turns in U Turn and Soderbergh’s peerless Out Of Sight but without direction she looks like an attractive light-fitting, shimmering but not doing much.