The iconic movie “The Wizard of Oz” is a landmark film that has stood the test of time and is still loved until today. Even in today’s trend of flashy computer-generated effects, the simple stunts and special effects are still effective and don’t take away from the magic of the film. It is a rare Hollywood hit that didn’t have a sequel made, although a prequel, “Oz the Great and Powerful,” had been made over seventy years later. The film will have some familiar characters, though most of the cast is comprised of characters that weren’t seen in the 1939 film.
Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is the biggest of the characters that the audience will be meeting for the first time. Oscar is a magician who is down on his luck when his air balloon lands in the mysterious land of Oz. Some of the locals believe in a prophecy that says that a man will come to Oz and become a great and powerful wizard who will help solve all the problems that Oz has. Others believe that Oscar is a fake and will not be the person to fulfill the prophecy. He must decide for himself whether or not he wants to become the wizard, and if he is even worthy of such a lofty task.
One of the citizens of Oz who believes that Oscar is the one named in the prophecy is Theodora (Mila Kunis), a beautiful good witch with a big problem. That problem comes in the form of her older sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz), who is as evil as can be. She is the Wicked Witch of the East, who was mentioned in “The Wizard of Oz” as the witch who was killed when Dorothy’s house landed on her. The audience only gets to see her legs in the film, so her prominent role in “Oz the Great and Powerful” will be the first time that fans really get a good look at anything other than her dead legs.
Likewise, Theodora was technically in “The Wizard of Oz,” but only after she became the Wicked Witch of the West as the replacement of Evanora. Viewers never got to see her before she became a Wicked Witch, when she was still pure and uncorrupted by her sister’s meddling. As played by Kunis, Theodora doesn’t have green skin or a chilling cackle; instead, she has dewy skin and a kind demeanor, not unlike that of the Good Witch of the South, Glinda (Michelle Williams), who was a big part of the original film.
Glinda isn’t a new character, but the area just south of Oz that she ruled over will be new to fans who have not read the books that the film is based on. It is called the Quadling Country, named after the Quadlings who live there. These are a whole new set of characters that are mostly sweet and gentle farmers, tending the fertile land while Glinda watches over them. The Quadling Country is also home to the Tinkers, another new set of characters who are overseen by the Master Tinker (Bill Cobbs), who will have a supporting role in the film.
If Oscar is to ever become the Wizard of Oz, he should have a loyal staff to help him. The film introduces his assistant Frank, who is played by “Scrubs” star Zach Braff. Though the rumor hasn’t been confirmed, there are whispers that the character of Frank is actually based upon L. Frank Baum, the author behind the “Wizard of Oz” books. In addition to Frank, Oscar can also rely on Finley, a flying monkey voiced by Braff, similar to the ones in the original film, though Finley is good instead of evil. He is adorably dressed in a bellhop uniform and soon becomes indispensible to Oscar as he ascends to power in Oz.
Knuck, a munchkin, has also been already introduced, though his character did not specifically appear in the previous movie. Knuck is a bit grump and occasionally rude as he carries out his duties as the Herald of Emerald City. Despite his gruff exterior, he is still good at heart and a loyal friend to Glinda, who will need as many allies as she can get before the film is over.
“Oz the Great and Powerful” is the perfect blend of new characters in a familiar setting. The film has been highly anticipated since it was announced that filming would begin in 2012. It will be officially released in the United States on March 8, 2013.