It’s been nearly three quarters of a century since MGM’s classic, The Wizard of Oz hit theaters. The beloved 1939 film is rated a perfect 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, so it’s safe to classify it as a beloved classic. Judging by the trailer, director Sam Raimi has approached the somewhat daunting task of revisiting Oz with the respect and reverence it deserves, references to the first film permeate the clip but with a whole lot more added for a contemporary audience. Oscar Diggs (James Franco) begins the film as a circus magician who wants to be a great man. Baum Bros. circus (reference to the Oz creator, L. Frank Baum) is alive and bustling in black and white, an element from the original film that is really put to good use here and amplifies the magic and wonder of Oz when his hot air balloon crash lands in the magical kingdom. We see the familiar yellow brick road and the iconic Emerald City in the distance but comparing it to the 1939 Oz, much has changed. He’s greeted by Theodora, (Mila Kunis and her massive hat), whom you may know as The Wicked Witch of the West, but she seems perfectly charming here. We also get a glimpse of Glinda (Michelle Williams), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and some flying monkeys that have been dragged into the present by a heavy dose of CGI.
I love the fantastical look of the new Oz and modern technology has definitely enhanced its portrayal on screen, but I worry. Will the charm of the old Oz be destroyed by this hyper CGI-ed version? That remains to be seen, and despite that I certainly can’t wait to see more and find out the story behind the man behind the curtain.