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Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful

Some time in the past there were tinkerers who were great and powerful -- so great that in this mundane world of ours it still would require a moment's recalibration to not consider them actually half magic, if someone persisted in your face that they were in fact so. Edison, if you want the best example, though you might also go with Benjamin Franklin, or whoever it was Scorsese's movie Hugo was worshipping. Stage magician Oz hopes to be like that, and spurns women left and right to keep himself fixed to this goal. He'd have been okay if this didn't also mean his deceiving women into his bed, but for this, judgment appears to have cast upon him and the rest of his life is going to be about lifelong serving the bequests of women, fixed to a spot rather than a free wanderer, readily reached by three very empowered, three very great and powerful, witch-women. But the actor playing Oz is James Franco, and so maybe the people behind this film had in mind some revenge upon women too. For Franco is sensitive and responsive enough to suggest to most sensitive souls that he's hardly a man so involved with machines or aspiring to sky-high goals he's dulled to humans, but there's something about how though he says and does and expresses about as you'd expect and desire, he's still applied a thin layer everywhere that registers as if it's all a lie--like you're in truth interacting with some puppet of himself, that's close to him but not really him, he's operating via remote control, a la Tony Stark's suit in Iron Man 3 -- his passive-aggressive revenge, let's not kid ourselves, on Pepper, for her owning his day world while he couches in his basement cave. Franco probably isn't so savvy, so great a magician he's made himself entirely inaccessible to you; he can be figured out. But the thing is, what would cause him to smirk like he's got something on you you can't balk, is that you don't really want to figure him out: he's the only plausible man in town, and Oz had become akin to the Castle Anthrax, managed by women who are becoming insufferable to one another and in need of a man, that beacons out promise of man-rule glory to get some hapless guy in to serve as some post to steady them, as well as for stud. Anyway, Oz might become convinced that he's really great and powerful, after apparently making up for every past sin against a woman he's ever effected -- which is so much his foremost concern the last gesture he makes to the latest evil witch haunting the land is an apology -- but the audience knows this guy is owned by a need for reparations. How easy it is to keep a guy like that from growing up -- just making every step ahead seem a spurning of everything and everyone who preceded it, and he's back to being yours. The end of the film shows two great ones battling-- the white good witch vs. the more mentally balanced evil witch -- and when the good witch defeats the evil one, it most certainly doesn't end with her apologizing but with her sure of the rightness in making this once actually most beautiful and regal witch (here played very stately by the stunning Rachel Weisz), the only nightmare horror/grotesque to be found in the land -- something of irrevocable consequence just happened here. This is grown-up matter for the only grown-ups in Oz. Ben Kenobi vs. Darth Vader at the finish of Star Wars – but at a time when boys who know best toys and tech, a la George Lucas, aren’t going to be allowed to be so ball-danglingly front and center, so these roles go to the girls while the guys do the patching up.     


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