Oz the Great and Powerful is set about 20 years before Dorothy gets whisked away to the magical kingdom by the tornado – so it’s kind of an “Oz origins” story. It tells how the “wizard” – actually a ridiculously crass, greedy and utterly ineffectual conman called Oscar Diggs – arrives in Oz and finds himself in the middle of a supremacy struggle between three witches of very different personalities (Good, Bad, Middling.)
Oz is truly sumptuous to look at – magical, actually – with magnificent SFX. The plot might be wafer-thin, but it cracks along at a fun pace nevertheless, and I quite enjoyed it – tho admittedly without being blown away. It can’t have been easy creating this magical world within the strict constraints set by Warner Bros’ lawyers – everything from the ruby slippers to Theodora’s big green chin were copyrighted and could not be used to recreate the Oz ambience.
Oz filmed in Michigan, courtesy of the State’s (then-) welcoming incentive programme, at the newly built Raleigh Studios there (a venue that swiftly defaulted on its $18 million government loan once the State’s incentive programme was cut back.) Also, I must just add, I think it’s no small irony that James Franco plays Oscar Diggs (or Oz). Franco is obviously one of Hollywood’s own biggest wizards himself, a chameleonic trickster of varying degrees of brilliance or awfulness, who’s somehow persuaded the great and good of Hollywood that he should be heading up this kind of $200 million movie.