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Cautiously Optimistic

Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful Gets a Full Trailer

Oz the Great and Powerful just rubs me the wrong way, and I doubt it has anything to do with the intentions of the people behind it. There’s a part of me that, despite how hard I try to just judge the concept on its own merits, is put off by this re-folding of Oz story. Dorothy defeats a formidable female foe at the behest of a benevolent, if somewhat cryptic (seriously, Glinda, we couldn’t just explain the shoes at the get go and let her choose?) female figure of power. It’s not like Wicked isn’t already a hit broadway production, so I’m a little leery of a movie that plucks the only male character of power (and let’s remember that it was a power based on illusion and deceit, however well-meaning) from the story of The Wizard of Oz movie and reforms the setting to be about a bunch of powerful women begging him to solve their problem and telling him he’s a fabled hero.

That said, I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, trailers are not the full measure of plot, the movie still has a bunch of great actresses in it, it looks like it’ll be a delight to the eyes at the very least, and I’m stupidly happy to see the porcelain people from the book get their due in a movie adaptation. What do you guys think?


  • Anonymous

    What is so wrong with allowing a man to have the lead in what has previously been led by women? For all of the posts praising gender bending made at the Mary Sue, it seems a bit harsh to be put off by this movie due to some “re-folding”.

  • Anonymous

    I’m put off by it in this instance because of the demographics of lead characters in films. It is very difficult to get a big-budget film with a female lead off the ground in Hollywood, because of the belief that they will not make money, and it annoys me that one of the most successful female-lead franchises out there is appears (appears, mind you, not necessarily is) to have succumbed to this pressure. Particularly when there’s an incredibly successful female-lead adaptation that’s never made it to film and even takes the usual route of retelling the story from a the villain’s point of view: Wicked.

  • Stephen Milligan

    To be fair, The Wizard of Oz books were almost all driven by female leads. Only one of Baum’s actual Oz novels had a male lead, and even it had a bit of a twist by the end. I’m still looking forward to the movie, but it’s less in the spirit of the books than it could be.

  • Jeyl

    And I honestly thought you were exaggerating about the “powerful women beg male hero to solve their problems”. For a film maker who I have good respect towards, I’m reminded of his treatment of female characters when the trailer declares with great pride that this is the director of the Spider Man trilogy. I’m sure you remember those movies where Mary Jane was literally nothing but a damsel. And the last film Raimi did with a female protagonist ended with her being sent straight to hell. I’m disappointed that his approach here doesn’t surprise me.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    James Franco sucks, so there’s a point against it. There’s also the matter of every obstacle put in front of him being so incredibly lethal but he manages to fumble through unscathed, so point two. There’s also the witches (actual MAGICAL witches) relying on James Franco for ANYTHING…frustrating. Half a point? And then there’s all those MADTV skit lines…”I don’t wanna die! I haven’t accomplished anything yet!” immediately following the clip of him saying, “I want to be a great man!” Redundancy, for another point.

    Counting’s hard, so I won’t add up the score just yet…but I’m highly skeptical.

    Where’s the goddamn creepy shit we got to see in Return to Oz? The desert that turns you to sand, the freakish headless sorceror, the demonic couch with a severed moose head attached? Now we’ve got CGI flying monkeys that look as well realized as the monkeys from Jumanji a decade ago. VERY highly skeptical.

  • Lance Bravestar

    Kinda reminds me a little too much of Tim Burton’s treatment of Alice in Wonderland, which I did not like. I like how it’s black and white outside Oz, though.

  • Cathy Burkholder

    I’m assuming this is not a reworking of the Wizard of Oz, so much as a prequel. If I remember right, in the books, it refers to how the wizard freed the emerald city and became known as a mighty hero before Dorothy came. That’s why he was made the ruler of the city, since the hereditary rulers are dead or missing and he defeated the evil usurper witch.

    I’m guessing they went with this part of the Oz timeline because it gives them a lot more latitude to play in Oz than if they had just made a movie version of one of the books. It’s a fully imagined, very popular world, but they can do almost whatever they like with the story since none of the details were described, just briefly referred to as backstory.

    That said, I would have liked to have seen one of the later stories with Ozma, but that’s just me, and she doesn’t have the name recognition that the wizard does.


    I want to see a movie that covers Ozma’s origin story, found in The Marvelous Land of Oz. I know some details from this book were in the “Return to Oz” movie, but it was just some minor plot points, not the Ozma story itself. I would pay good money to watch that, *especially* if someone could slide a well-written trans narrative in there too (PLEASE someone do this). This movie I am not particularly excited about, sadly.

  • Anonymous

    No doubt Raimi was aware of Wicked, does it have to be a nefarious reason that another path was chosen? What if there is artistic reasoning behind Raimi’s choice to cast a male lead? I sympathize with the difficulties women face in Hollywood, they are terrible, but should we expect a director to drop their vision of a story to support a perceived greater good? I say perceived because if our ideas are imposed upon someone then are they really good anymore? Does the end justify the means?

  • Sarah

    Back in 1981, The Children’s Theatre Company and School of Minneapolis staged a musical production of The Marvelous Land of Oz. It’s on YouTube, if you’re interested:

  • Sarah

    This just looks boring. James Franco is just so bleeeeeeh. Glinda doesn’t seem like herself.

    Why are actual magical witches relying on a non-magical guy? It just doesn’t make sense.

  • Lauren Seals

    Oh man you’re right. There are like no stories about successful white men ever!! Truly the studio has righted a wrong and given the weight back to the correct players.

    In all seriousness though, no one is saying it’s wrong. But it’s okay to express disappointment that one of the most prominent and beloved stories featuring women as agents in the story is being spun to be all about the guy. No one is saying it’s wrong, but this is a disappointment we have to live with every day. Perhaps in this case it’ll be a fantastic artistic decision and the story will be perfect!! But it’s indicative of the larger attitude of stories about women, which is that unless it’s actually about a man, there’s no point.

  • Anonymous

    “Powerful women beg male hero to solve their problems.” I don’t see it that way. I think Mila and Rachel are taking the people for what they can. The “evil witch” they’re talking about is either a frame job on Michelle or a straw man to get people to turn over they’re power to the sisters. There’s a prophecy about a “great and powerful man” who will come to defeat the evil witch and Oz just happens to fit this bill. Rachel and Mila are trying to either deflect him or quietly kill him. I think things are not as they seem in this political power play.

  • Brian

    And in the books, he kidnaps the rightful female ruler of Oz and cuts a deal with one of the deposed wicked witches to hide her. What an ass.

  • Brian

    I assume you’re referring to Tip, but there was also Ojo in the Patchwork Girl of Oz, Woot in The Tin Woodsman of Oz, and Prince Inga and King Rinkitink in The Crappy Adapted Spinoff of Oz.

  • Brian

    And shot in Academy Ratio. Nice touch.

  • Anonymous

    My problem with it is James Franco. There are hundreds of better actors, and I am really disappointed in his casting. But the rest looks amazing and I’m willing to withhold total judgment.

  • Anonymous

    My problem with it is James Franco. There are hundreds of better actors, and I am really disappointed in his casting. But the rest looks amazing and I’m willing to withhold total judgment.

  • Nick Gaston

    That was my suspicion…knowing Glinda’s track record? It seems just as likely that they’re just manipulating the (expendable) wizard into doing their wetwork for them. Not unlike Dillon from Predator, or Princess Peach and Mario. :)

  • Dlee

    Side note: You’ll shit bricks when you realise Jumanji is closer to being 18 years old than ten.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    So many bricks, I just built a house. How is that possible!? So very old…

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I’m TRYING to do that.

  • Liam Shiels

    Here’s a Q: When making lists of popular, positive female protagonists in pop culture, Dorothy’s never on that list….but when I think about it, she’s one of the earliest female protagonists, and one who isn’t a princess. She was asked by the Wizard to defeat the witch and does so, leads the team of mainly inept male sidekicks to victory (also, I jus realised: Judy Garland’s The Wizard of Oz passes the Bechdel Test considering the conversations she has with the good witches).
    So why isn’t Dorothy more often references as a positive female role model in pop culture?
    My guess? despite being the protagonist of the story she goes through it in a pretty passive way – never drawing from inner strengths to triumph over adversity – just lucking through it all.