I looked forward to seeing this movie since I saw the first preview. Talk about eye candy! The poster artwork drew me in and let me follow that yellow brick road once more. As a child, I read all of the Oz books. Most people probably don’t know there was more to the story than just the Wizard of Oz made so famous by the movie. I loved Oz, and everything in it. All the strange and wonderful creatures, the tall tales of bravery and triumph over evil. It was paradise for a child with an overactive imagination.
Somehow I didn’t approach this movie as I should have. I approached it as an adult, with a bit of nostalgia for the original Wizard of Oz. What I should have done was remember the entire Oz world, and how I saw it as a child. The colors, the sounds, the larger than life…everything. So when the movie first started I watched with adult eyes and thought “well, I like how they filmed the opening. It’s a nod to the original.” I was clinical. Almost cynical. I noted that they’d made the screen smaller to mimic the old fashioned ones. I noted the black and white. I noted that Oz was a bit of a jerk, frankly. They go so far as to list his many faults so you have no question about what they are. “Self centered, egotistical….” At least we’re all well aware of what he needs to work on!
About this time I realized I was impatient to get to the colorful version. The black and white seemed to go on for too long, and I knew it was going to be in color eventually so let’s just get on with it. I noticed my husband checked his watch. Not a good sign in the first ten minutes.
Then the world shifts and black and white turns to color and Oz is transported to, well, Oz. Oh, how beautiful! If I were a child, I’d be in awe of how this film looks. I’d want to touch it, and roll in it, and just like the books I’d want to crawl inside it and live there. What an amazing job they did both with the over-the-top color and the effects. My favorite part? The little china doll. The sound editing is fantastic. Listen for her tiny clinking footsteps; they’re adorable.
A little over half way through the movie I gave myself a shake and stopped watching this like an adult. Because honestly, as an adult I found it cheesy, slightly over the top, predictable, and lacking in surprise and wonder. Perhaps I’m just jaded. Or maybe I’m unfairly comparing it in my mind to the Wizard Of Oz and expecting the cowardly lion and some singing munchkins and the joy I found in it as a child. There’s no cowardly lion, though there is a brief moment with a real one. There’s munchkins, but they really don’t get to sing. There’s no Judy Garland singing Over The Rainbow. If you’re expecting that you will be as disappointed as I started to be.
When I looked through my inner child’s eyes, though, and let go all of my adult expectations, I saw all the magic I found in the books. I saw larger than life flowers, and a cute flying monkey bellhop, a china town made of teapots, a yellow brick road which led to a truly amazing Emerald City, a world of wonder and life lessons about the power of believing. And isn’t that really what the movie is all about? About finding that inner child, and letting go if only for a little world all the crushing adult problems weighing down on you to experience, once more, all that is child-like? Why do we ever let that part of ourselves get so buried? What’s so wrong with approaching the world with a sense of awe and wonder?
If you go to see this movie, take your inner child along. Expect a story to make him or her giggle, shout, clap their hands, and grin. Splurge on the 3D version. Watching this in 3D was like being on a ride in DisneyLand. I fully expect to see one dedicated to this in the near future, and I bet it spits water at you multiple times.
For the record, my husband did not like this movie at all. He doesn’t like the Wizard of Oz either, and he’s never read the books. He’s never read Alice in Wonderland either. His childhood was severely lacking but I’m trying to make up for it now by dragging him to movies like this.