18 August 2012 | rocketXpert
You might have a good time, if you lower your expectations, then lower them again
I doubted this film would be great, but my best case scenario was that it would at least be fun in a cheesy way. Even by those standards, I was let down. Maybe part of the problem is that I saw it on the big screen when it really feels like a direct to video movie. On the other hand, I don't think I could have asked for a better viewing experience, so I have to face the fact that the main problem is that it was just not very good.
Things like "Wicked" and "Tin Man" have shown that there can be decent alternate takes on Oz, but this was not one of them, sadly. I think the filmmakers' hearts were in the right place, but this low-budget attempt at creating something with the look of a big-budget blockbuster ended up being kind of a cringe-inducing mess.
I got a sinking feeling within the first moments as we're introduced to a CGI version of Oz that looks poor even compared to modern video games. But I don't watch independent movies for spectacle; I watch them for story and characters, and unfortunately, I found neither to be terribly engaging here. I might have cared about the plot if the movie had spent more time establishing the characters and their relationship to each other, but this presents something of a Catch-22: adding such scenes would have presumably made the movie longer and it already felt overly long. They must have padded it out beyond all reason in order to accommodate the miniseries format.
I've seen complaints about wooden acting in this film. Any deficiencies there I am willing to at least partially blame on the directing and/or script. Even most of the name actors turn in rather unremarkable performances- the big exception being Mia Sara's manic Princess Langwidere. Among the lesser-known players, I thought Eliza Swenson was the most memorable as the manipulative literary agent.
This is a movie I really wanted to like, so I wish I had more positive things to say about it. There are a couple nods to the MGM musical and a few more to the original Oz books, but I don't see this satisfying fans of either. Honestly, I would have a difficult time recommending "Dorothy and the Witches of Oz" to anyone. And I'm the sort of person who can often find redeeming qualities in movies that others might dismiss as simply terrible.
I'm somewhat shocked that a sequel is supposedly in the works. Call me a hopeless optimist or just morbidly curious, but if that actually gets made, I'll most likely end up watching it as well, hoping that it might be better than this movie, which it would almost have to be.