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By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

Previewing the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Oz the Great and Powerful and Dead Man Down

 Last weekend, I went to catch the latest film from Brian Singer.  While I did find Jack the Giant Slayer rather enjoyable (I’d sell it for 4 magic beans out of 5), it was the pre-movie speech given by one of the attendants that had me scratching my head.  The attendant rattled on for about 5 minutes about the first movie on today’s New Release list, claiming it was going to be the first blockbuster of the season.  While I understand he was simply doing his job and promoting a future release, it did leave me scratching my head.  Was this movie that I just spent ten bucks to see not any good?  Why was he refusing to even acknowledge it?  I’m glad it turned out to not be the case (it was worth my ten), but still, at least mention the film we’re seeing, outside of the obligatory “Enjoy Jack the Giant Slayer” at the end.

 

With that out of the way, it is time to look at this “first blockbuster” of the year.  Let’s follow the yellow brick road with…

 

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

 

A small-time magician arrives in an enchanted land and is forced to decide if he will be a good man or a great one. *

 

The Good – I have been an unabashed Sam Raimi fan ever since my older brother introduced me to the awesome Army of Darkness.  His quirky directing style and gleeful exuberance translates exceptionally to the screen.  Through his overboard camerawork in the Evil Dead films, the subtleties displayed in the fantastic A Simple Plan, and delivering one of the most perfect superhero movies in Spider-Man 2, I’ve admired the man and his cinematic eye.  He is now venturing towards the childhood fantasies with Oz, telling the origins story of one of the most mysterious characters in filmdom.  James Franco appears to be enjoying himself from the brief snippets of this film I’ve seen.  I have extreme confidence that Sam Raimi can present a great film.

 

The Bad – Unfortunately, this also reeks of Alice in Wonderland, the Tim Burton directed travesty of a film a few years ago.  Once again, it’s a Disney film telling a different version of a classic tale.  Alice proved to be a disaster on almost all fronts, from its ill-conceived attempt to be a Lord of the Rings epic, to the misdirection of almost all players, and its abysmal use of 3D.  That film was terrible.  Here’s hoping Oz can avoid that film’s missteps.

 

The Ugly – Little known fact.  The Wizard of Oz that the world is most familiar with was not its first cinematic telling.  There have been at least 4 different versions before Judy Garland donned the ruby red slippers.  Whenever someone mentions that all remakes are bad, here’s one to throw back in their face.

 

Oz the Great and Powerful is rated PG for sequences of action and scary images, and brief mild language.

 

DEAD MAN DOWN

 

In New York City, a crime lord's right-hand man is seduced by one of his boss's victims, a woman seeking retribution. *

 

The Good – I’m going to keep this one short.  Noomi Rapace, Colin Farrell, and Terrence Howard star in a film directed by Niels Arden Oplev, the director of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  My ticket has already been bought.

 

The Bad – Or it would have been had they not flashed one of the production credits.  This, my friends, is a WWE Studio Production.  That’s right.  It’s the same company that brings us males in tight underwear rolling on a mat in front of an arena of screaming fans every week.  I just can’t take a movie serious when I see that label.  I’m sure they merely financed the production or have a random wrestler in a smaller role, but still.  I’m going to be waiting for someone to be bashed with a random folding chair through the Spanish announcer’s table.  No.  Just no.

 

The Ugly – I’m guessing halfway through the movie, Noomi Rapace will suplex Terrence Howard and roll him up for the three count…  Actually, I would like to see that.

 

Dead Man Down is rated R for violence, language throughout and a scene of sexuality.

 

That will do for this week.  Tune in next time when Halle Berry will call up a down and out magician.  Until then, whatcha gonna do when Rapacemania runs wild on you?  Do you smell what Colin Farrell is cooking?

 

*all movie summaries taken from IMDB.com

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