24 February 2014

The Dreams Of The People Live On



There are certain films which, like the genitals of an old French whore, should be left untouched. If anybody remade a classic like Casablanca then they'd effectively be condemning themselves to that section of Hell where angry geeks spend an eternity pissing fire into their victims’ eyes whilst crying. For some people, The Wizard of Oz is one of those 'untouchable films' with the original being very close to their probably-quite-camp hearts. Personally I only got around to seeing it last year which by coincidence ended up being the same week that Thatcher snuffed it and the song 'Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead' made an amusing appearance in the charts. I really enjoyed the film though and could more than see everything that was great about it from the iconic set design to the ambiguous reality and particularly the brave choice of having a sociopath as the lead character. Seriously, watch it again and pay attention to just how many times Dorothy kills and how little a shit she gives about it. She fucks people up whilst expressing all the concern of a retarded cabbage with empathy issues and a historically awful upbringing.

Despite enjoying the film though I suppose I probably admired it more than I actually loved it. Therefore when I heard about the prequel, Oz The Great And Powerful I really wasn't too arsed either way. As far as I'm concerned, there's a load of books in that series to draw from and there's already been a few other crappy movies to taint the legacy as it is. Directed by Geek God Sam Raimi, this new addition aimed to tell the journey of Oz, the Wizard from the original, as he goes from being a barebones nobody to the fraudster leader of a bullshit world. Of course, like anybody with eyes, I'm a huge fan of Raimi's and would more than donate a few hours of my life to experience anything that sprang from his demented mind. However like the extra bollock in an already crowded nutsack there was something about this film that worried me. From the moment it was announced as being a big budget update of an old classic, and particularly by Disney, I'm sure I can't be the only person to get flashbacks to Tim Burtons Alice in Wonderland... which at our politest I'm sure we all remember as being a massive lump of shit.

"I hope to fuck this isn't Wonderland..."
This film begins during the dark days of 1905 as a giant storm rips through the monochrome grimness of a dustbowl Kansas. Oz is a selfish cock who performs rubbish magic shows to mostly empty seats whilst treating his only friend like shit and trying to shag any woman that dares to have tits. After unsuccessfully trying to chat up the wrong girl, her boyfriend chases after Oz causing him to make the logical decision of jumping into a hot air balloon and flying straight into a tornado. So although he might not have managed to have sex that day at least he can still claim to have been sucked off...  also, I know that's an awful joke but fuck you. Anyway, after surviving the ordeal he crash lands in the mysterious world of Oz which is currently enduring a three way power struggle between three controlling witches. Obviously he's got to defeat them or at least the two evil ones... because you know... God help us be subjected to an original story! However there is at least some degree of mystery because although we know he does succeed thanks to this being a prequel, we also know that he doesn't kill them. That's for crazy old Dorothy and her blank faced murder spree later on. So I guess the tension isn't about how Oz will kill his adversaries but more about how will he outsmart them. Also I know that Oz the man shares his name with Oz the world he ends up in but I guess that just a coincidence. Kind of like if Paris Hilton crashed in the city of Paris, Orlando Bloom crashed in the city of Orlando or Rip Torn crashed in the vagina of Lindsey Lohan. Urgh... that's two bad jokes in one over-long paragraph... Fuck you again!

So if I was worried about this being reminiscent of that shitty Tim Burton film then the opening few minutes didn't exactly put me at ease. I know Danny Elfman has worked with Raimi a lot too but because he's a musical slut, his work and sound is surely mostly associated with Burton's movies? Well I think so anyway. I actually already tried to watch Oz The Great And Powerful a day earlier but it just put me in the mood for Big Fish so I ended up switching it off with the plan of watching that instead. I didn't in the end because I got distracted by a row with my stepmum but the point still stands. Also she's a bitch. Anywho, the Burton references don't just end there as they also pretty much look like they're set in the same world too. Every so often, Franco's Oz would turn a corner to which I half expected him to find a ginger Johnny Depp performing the futterwacken. Fact fans might be interested to know that the literal translation of Futterwacken is 'to make a twat of oneself'. That's a lie but whatever... Both films also take two classic films and then annoyingly build them up to a final showdown in which armies are expected to clash. And in both cases the promise of that battle sounded about as exciting as trying to toss off to a broken egg timer whilst wearing oven gloves and crying.

On the bright side though, there is one key difference between Raimi and Burton’s two films and it's that Raimi's isn't shit. It's one of those movies that lives in the bland world... never offensive and always teasing the satisfaction of something better. Although because that satisfaction never comes I guess this is really the cinematic equivalent of 'blue ball'. Also, as much as it has aspects that are similar to one of Burton’s more piss poor efforts, it also has traces that stand this apart as very definitely a Raimi film. For a start there's its love of classic cinema, slapstick and a noticeable use of kinetic, comic book style camera movements. Oh and of course there's also the traditional cameo from Bruce Campbell who is this time buried under a layer of prosthetics so thick that it was only thanks to his fuck-off chin that I recognised him. Oh and if that wasn't enough I suppose there's also the small similarity between the plot of this movie and of Raimi's 1992 film Army of Darkness as they're near fucking identical.

Both Army of Darkness and Oz The Great And Powerful begin when a man accidentally travels from our world to a fantasy one. The hero also instantly starts a kind of relationship with a woman who, spoiler alert- turns evil as the film progresses. Although I guess that's the logical conclusion of most relationships to be fair... In both movies’ cases, the main character is also kind of a cock whose charm can be found in their smugness and who seems to be the solution to an ancient prophecy that predicts peace for the land. Oh and there's an evil witch in each film with the two looking so similar that they could start a weekly support group with Mark Wahlberg and Matt Damon called, 'nobody can tell us apart'. On top of all that, the flying monkeys of Oz look remarkably similar to the flying deadites of Darkness. Although sadly Franco doesn't kill his souring simians by blowing their heads off with a bastard shotgun and then start screaming that everybody's a “primitive screwhead”.

Hail to the king, baby!
To kind of conclude, if you saw Jack The Giant Slayer then this is pretty much on par with that. Actually, if it wasn't quite so long it'd probably even be better. Oz the Great and Powerful isn't the Wonderland shaped shit stain on Raimi's filmography that many worried but nor was it worthy of his talents. In fact if you watched Army of Darkness and wished it was longer, child-friendly and smacked of studio guidelines then honestly you'll fucking love this! Kind of like Singer's Giant Slayer it's just one of those films that was alright but not worth sticking an extra two year delay on a great director making a film more worthy of them. If you loved the original Wizard of Oz then this won't rape your childhood- although at worst I suppose it's probably given it an inappropriate fondling.

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