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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Get Gritty, Get Gorgeous – The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Bourne Legacy – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The Bourne Legacy (2012)

Director: Tony Gilroy
Writers: Tony Gilroy (screenplay & story), Dan Gilroy (screenplay), and Robert Ludlum (novel & inspiration)
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton

The Bourne Legacy is the fourth in the Bourne franchise but it also the first movie with the main character of Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) instead of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon). The story picks up Cross as he is on a training exercise for the “program” in Alaska, and while Jason Bourne is running rite in Europe and America. With Bourne’s eradict behaviour and the light being shone on the CIA’s operations, they plan to shut the “program” down. This is where we find ourselves thrown into the action with Aaron Cross as he tries to survive the wildness of apparent death and the dependence on viral tablets that have been part of his treatment in the “program”.

After loving the Bourne Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum so much I was cautious walking into this film. But I came prepared with low expectations after reading a bad review from Empire Magazine. I shall never trust their reviewers again, and you will soon see why. I sat in my cinema seat with popcorn in hand as the lights dimmed and the familiar image of a body floating in water appeared on screen (a similar shot was used in The Bourne Identity to open the series). This time however it was Aaron Cross, diving into the depths of a river in Alaska. He emerged from the water as a wet, rugged, bearded, wild man in the form of Jeremy Renner. He wrapped himself with a blanket and stood in front of a fire on the icy shelter next to the river as the camera panned out to show us that he was standing in the middle of a snow covered wilderness. And it was at this moment that I knew the film was going to break my low expectations by far.

Renner plays a more vocal character than our beloved Bourne, however he performs with such strength, ferocity and charisma that you can’t help but be on his side as he fights to live. The story unfolds in two parts and by the end of the feature I felt like I had started in a different movie than the one I had ended up in. It wasn’t as cleverly devised as the originals but it captures the audience and takes them on a ride of adrenaline just the same. The action sequences are just as intense as in the originals and there is an added element of remorselessness in a lot of the action that wasn’t there in the originals but left me a little shaken and shocked. Renner surpassed my expectations of wonderful as he continued to show his unbelievable ability to be a rough and tough action hero. He isn’t your usual type of handsome for an action figure but he becomes more handsome the grittier he gets. And when sitting across from the gorgeous Rachel Weisz the screen screams sexy at you. The pair of actors make a formidable force on screen and with the added bit of evil provided by Edward Norton you can’t help but be captured by this film. Norton provides boundless amounts of terrifying intelligent evil to the movie and I would never want to work for his character because I would just end up in tears every day out of fright.

The Bourne Legacy follows the trilogy with a faithfulness to Ludlum’s world and provides a great next installment for the series. It may not be better than the original three but it certainly matches them for action and adventure.  I can’t decide now whether I prefer Bourne or Cross which is testament to Renner’s performance as Cross. He is charming and brilliant as well as vulnerable and fierce. The balance between Renner and Weisz solidifies the film and the story really makes you champion their cause. I really enjoyed this film and will definitely be seeing it again as soon as possible. Go and experience the awesome that is Aaron Cross and the irresistible Jeremy Renner.