This 'sequel' to the classic 'Wizard of Oz' is more in tune with the original books and is less saccharin than the original Oz tale. In fact if you watched the two back to back you would be forgiven for seeing little comparison between the two.
Personally the 1939 movie always freaked me out as a kid. The color is weird and the characters are creepy. They remind me of circus folk who only smile at you because they want something from you. It's an child's instinct to know who they can trust and I never trusted anyone or anything in the original. Only the Wicked Witch seemed to be upfront with her intentions the whole time.
The sequel has that same kind of feeling about it but is more honest. Dorothy is being persuaded (and even almost electroshocked) by all the adults around her that she doesn't know what she knows. She is being told that what she remembers about her adventures in Oz are not real. However, she is much too smart and practical to ever be convinced or coerced into denying her memories.
If there was ever a child actor more adorable and polished in her first movie than Fairuza Balk I haven't seen her (Maybe 'I Am Sam's' Dakota Fanning). She is the magic that propels this story. You can't take your eyes off her. Despite her apparent calm demeanor, her amazing eyes speak volumes. She is the perfect age to fully believe everything that is happening to her. Judy Garland to me seemed like a bit of a retard for buying all the balloon juice being sold to her.
Like in the original, a natural disaster sweeps Dorothy back to Oz where she finds a whole new set of characters and a much different place than she remembered. The land has been destroyed by the Nome King who has also turned all the inhabitants to stone. Of course the people from her Kansas life show up as inhabitants of Oz lending credence to the theory that all of this is really just in her mind. I love that element here like I loved it in 'Pan's Labyrinth', a similarly dark fairy tale.
I enjoyed the fact that nothing is safe in this version of Oz. There are more than flying monkeys to terrify anyone under 10. The Wheelers are particularly scary with their maniacal laughter and squeaking wheels for hands and feet. Princess Moomby too freaks you out with her display cases full of extra heads to wear and her promise to Dorothy to "lock her in the tower until her head is ready. Then she will take it." Welcome to the happy little kid's movie.
Despite her fear and the danger all around her, this Dorothy is brave and resourceful and you always are comforted by the fact that you never believe that any of the threats are beyond her ability to handle. She has a way of gathering valuable allies around her like Tick Tock the windup soldier, the simple Jack Pumpkinhead and Gump, the flying 'thingamabob'. That has everything to do with how great an actress Fairuza Balk is in this role.
The shifting faces on the rocks who track every step Dorothy and her chicken companion are a successful early GGI effect. Many of the sets are amazing and there is always something interesting to look at. The flying Gump shows that this movie doesn't suffer from any lack of imagination. The running gag about everyone freaking out over a chicken being in Oz is very funny.
If you have young ones they may be frightened by this movie at several points but for anyone else it's a thrilling big budget adventure with great visuals and a plucky young heroine at the center who will inspire any little girl to face her fears and believe in her friends. Not so bad a lesson for anyone.
Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness
I forever stand vigilant to protect this planet from the myriad of forces that are always against us. Be it the octopus, zombies, aliens or the robots my team of human agents, and our feline allies, circle the globe in a never ending struggle for human freedom.
I learn all I can on every subject that interests me. I especially enjoy ancient history because in the past there are valuable lessons to be found. Also, if I ever get my time machine to work properly, it would be good to know a bit about possible destinations and what to expect when I get there.
I greatly appreciate beautiful design. Be it manufactured or found naturally I am fascinated by the process of invention. I am attracted to the unique, the strange, the haunted. I like to share what I find on this blog.
And not let us forget the 'Cephalopod Menace' who, if allowed to, would wrap their tentacles around all that is good and pure in this life and crush it until it remained no more. They are creatures of pure spite. Hate is all they know. Death is all they do. They are our most ruthless and determined enemy.
So we fight. Selena has the celebrity contacts, the cat is ruthless and without pity, Roosevelt's ghost has the experience and I do the wetwork.
Fighting for the future of the planet doesn't have to be a chore, however. We can take the time to appreciate all that is cool in this world even as we cut the octopus into bite sized chunks.
This is the reason there has always been and must forever be, a Cave of Cool. Be sure to wipe your feet before you enter.