The story of how one man can make a film mediocre – Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Oz the Great and Powerful – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

Director: Sam Raimi
Writers: Mitchell Kapner (screenplay and screen story), David Lindsay-Abaire (screenplay), and Frank L. Baum (“Oz” works).
Stars: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff and Mila Kunis.

The Wizard of Oz has been, and will always be, one of my all-time favourite films. Judy Garland was my hero when I was young and the film inspired me to become obsessed with movie making. The transition from black and white to colour is astounding and wonderful in the original film and the songs and story are classic. This new addition to the Oz franchise of  takes some of the wonderful elements of Frank L. Baum’s world and brings them to life. The colours, the landscape, the creatures, the nature; all of the visual elements of this film soar to great heights and lift the story out of the books and onto the screen.

The story would be good too if only they hadn’t given the role of Oz to James Franco. It’s hard for one actor to ruin an entire film but Franco manages to make this film mediocre rather than magnificent. However the women in this film balance out the overplaying of Franco. Rachel Weisz is stunning as the guardian of the throne in Oz. Mila Kunis’ transformation in character is flawless. And Michelle Williams couldn’t have done a better job of holding this film together as the fierce witch of the south. These three female leads, plus Zach Braff’s performance as the monkey Finley, really work hard to hold this film together. It’s not that Franco is awful or anything, it’s just that he is creepy and over acts in moments but fails to convey any truth of character on screen. I’ve always been a bit of a fan of Franco since he played James Dean in the TV movie, but he has failed to impress as Oz.

I went in with low expectations for this film and if the ending hadn’t been as great as it was then I probably would have hated it but the cinematic elements of the film are what make it worth the watch.

2.5/5

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Films I’ve Seen A Million Times – Oh The Cheese! – Get Over It

Get Over It - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Get Over It – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Get Over It (2001)

Director: Tommy O’Haver
Writer: R. Lee Fleming Jr.
Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Ben Foster and Melissa Sagemiller

There is something wonderful about overly cheesy films that can make fun of themselves. I have a particular love for them even though I know most people would probably not. It is a way of letting go of reality and living in a world where the ridiculous is accepted. It’s one of the reasons I love old school musicals like Singin’ In The Rain, Easter Parade, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. It is the way it allows you to accept the fantasy and giggle and cringe your way along through it. And especially in the case of a lot of musicals, it is the fantasy of falling in love with a man that will sing and dance around you that I love to live in. I’ve always said I wanted a guy who can dance, sing, and make me swoon, pretty much just because I want to live in a musical for a day. If you combine this with Shakespeare you have an absolute winner for me.

Get Over It is just this. It’s a quarter musical, a quarter Shakespeare, a quarter comedy, and a quarter romance film. And it’s awesome. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Colin Hanks, and Mila Kunis, among others, there is a wonderful cheesiness about this film that makes me laugh every time. It is a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and includes high school musical, slapstick comedy, and really random moments of unexpected hilarity along the way. The main character, Berke Landers (Ben Foster) is a guy with your usual high school problems, just been dumped by his long term girlfriend and soul mate Alison McAllister (Melissa Sagemiller), he signs up to the school musical, an adaptation of A Midsummer Nights Dream, to win her back from the sleaze of a boy band member she’s started dating (Shane West). Oh and his parents are sex therapists with their own TV advice/chat show. I mean it’s just comic brilliance. And with friends like Colin Hanks and his on-screen-sister Kirsten Dunst, who could imagine anything better? Parties, getting arrested by police at a strip club for being under age, public humiliation at the basketball match, a girl with an epic bad luck curse on her, getting shot by your best friend’s sister with an arrow. This movie has everything you could possibly ever want (and probably not want).

What makes it brilliant is the way it makes fun of itself which is balanced with Shakespeare’s brilliant love triangle. The comedy and music play against one another and the messy relationships that sprawl across the screen make this film so enjoyable for me. It’s also one of those moments when I relate to one of the characters incredibly closely to the point where it scares me a little, except they get the ultimate happy ending because that’s what the movies are all about. It really appeals to the things I treasure deeply, that are my insecurities, that I hold as honourable, that I hope for. I know that it plays on my imagination and makes me dream a little dream and that it isn’t the greatest film ever made by it is well made and just plain funny.

It’s my guilty little pleasure for when I’m feeling down which I know will always cheer me up and escape my negativity.

Do you have a guilty pleasure film that you watch but know isn’t that great?

Laughing with someone makes it all bearable – Ted

Ted - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Ted – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Ted (2012)

Director: Seth MacFarlane
Writers: Seth MacFarlane (story & screenplay), and Alen Sulkin (screenplay), and Wellesley Wild (screenplay)
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and Seth MacFarlane

There is something beautiful about going and seeing a film for free when you don’t expect it, and seeing it with a friend who could came along at the last minute and who is a joy to be around. This was the circumstance that I found myself in when I saw Ted tonight. My friend Lizzie and I rocked up to see an Australian film (The Sapphires – review to come soon, when I get around to seeing it – out August 10) but the cinema had booked a smaller cinema than the distributer had requested and so we were given the option of seeing a different film. Lizzie and I decided on Ted because we had both seen the other option offered. I hadn’t planned to see Ted, mainly because it’s not my usual type of film. I’m not a huge fan of crass and gross humour and not a fan of Mila Kunis and so the only selling point for me was Mark Wahlberg. But with all the negatives I held up against this film I actually found it very funny and enjoyable.

Let me say that I really think that whether you like a film or not depends on both the quality of the film and also the environment in which you see it, especially who you see it with. I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed this movie as much if I had seen it on my own or with some of my other friends. And that is no criticism on them, it is just a simple fact of being able to enjoy something a little bit different at a fun moment in the day after a bit of disappointment and just rolling with it.

Ted is the story of a boy who makes a wish when he is 8 for his Teddy Bear to be a real friend. It is a sweet premise and overall I really loved the idea of a man being so connected with a childhood friend that they are still friends thirty years later. The faithfulness, the loyalty, and the bond between Ted and John are really quite beautiful in a lot of ways. And then the adult Ted kicks in, and well that’s when it turns a little chaotic. There are some moments in Ted which were gross and I cringed a little bit at them, but there were also some very clever lines and in-jokes (especially for those who know of Seth McFarlane) and it was these moments that I laughed at most. There were also just a lot of little moments of real silliness that was just plain humourous.

Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis’ performances were stellar but the best performance has to go to Ryan Reynolds. His cameo performance is pure genius. There is a wonderful understated nature to a lot of little moments in this film that make it incredibly funny for our generation but it is also one of those things that mean in ten or twenty years time will go unnoticed and unappreciated. I know that not everyone will love this film but if you have enjoyed popular culture over the last ten years you will probably enjoy this film at least a little bit.

I still stand by my original stance that I would not have seen this film if I had to pay for it but I am really glad I saw it. Seth McFarlane has created a great filmic balance between humour and endearment which leaves you with a positive feeling as you giggle your way out the cinema door. It is this balance that makes it an enjoyable film and it is the endearment that balances out the crass humour which makes it more bearable than other some other similar comedies.