Skip to comments.Michigan Gets Flying Monkeys for $40 Million - A review of 'Oz'
Posted on 03/20/2013 11:40:54 AM PDT by MichCapCon
As reported recently in Michigan Capitol Confidential, Michigan taxpayers shelled out a cool $40 million in tax credits to the House of Mouse for the perceived benefits of filming the movie "Oz: The Great and Powerful" in our state.
As noted by several Mackinac Center analysts, there are reasons aplenty for opposing film subsidies given to any movie.
Just what exactly did Michigan residents get for their government's extremely generous $40 million gift to Disney? Even if "Oz: The Great and Powerful" measured up to the aesthetics of MGM's 1939 classic "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" (it doesn't), it would still be a bust for those of us who paid for it but is the movie successful on its own merits?
While this writer hasnt yet tried syncing a Pink Floyd album to "Oz," he has found that it resurrects the allegorical elements from the original novel by L. Frank Baum that were left, for the most part, out of the 1939 film. Come to think of it, Disneys new Oz comes closer to evoking the spirit of Floyd's "Money" than Judy Garland ever could.
The new Oz is a prequel to the original movie, and explains how the man behind the curtain came to be. Before becoming the Land of Oz's great and powerful wizard, Oscar (played tiresomely in a one-note performance by James Franco) is a duplicitous carnival sleight-of-hand artist with an eye for the ladies. When the carnival strongman discovers Oscar has rendered him a cuckold, Oscar escapes in a balloon that is subsequently caught up in a twister that transports him to Oz.
Once in Oz, Oscar (also called Oz throughout the film) meets three witches, all of them at first beautiful. One, however, is destined to evolve into the green-skinned harpy portrayed by Margaret Hamilton in 1939, another is Glinda the Good Witch, and one will wind up the worse for wear when she eventually suffers from a housing crash in the MGM film.
As in Baum's source material, the allegorical implications abound. If green is bad in Oz, emerald is even worse. Oz's Emerald City once again refers to Wall Street with its abundance of wealth with which to entice Oscar, who becomes a representation of politicians both good and bad. The two sister witches, Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Theodora (Mila Kunis) stand in, presumably, for bankers and Republicans or would that be Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter?
Glinda, of course, represents a pure version of American politics. Her father had been the king of Oz until his murder by one of the moneyed interests listed above. It is left to Oscar to replace him, but Oscar is vain, avaricious and, frankly, a fraud, a con artist and a flim-flam man of the lowest order in short, Hollywoods view of the first eight years of this centurys national politics.
In this universe, those nasty flying monkeys represent any media outlet that gravitates right of center. The monkeys, minions of the two evil witches, chase Glinda, Oscar, a fragile yet tough China doll (the economy) and Finley, a loyal and therefore cuter flying monkey (voiced by Zach Braff), to a (fiscal) cliff whereupon they escape in yup, you guessed it bubbles.
In this myopic view of the creation and bursting of the housing bubble, it's all the fault of conservatives and Wall Street. While certainly deserving their fair share of the blame, the opposing party and those who took out loans they couldn't afford seemingly get a pass from director Sam Raimi and his screenwriters. It's even more populist propaganda than Baum's original book.
And it's Oscar who eventually saves the day by finally realizing his true potential. "The Great and Powerful Oz" really isn't either, but the filmmakers seem to say the illusion thereof is enough to carry the day against corporate greed and nasty conservatives.
Once Oscar gets past his lust for feminine beauty and gold, he employs new-fangled cinema-projection technology borrowed from Thomas Edison to create the illusion of power and greatness to battle evil. His name, after all, is Oscar, also the name given the highest award in moviedom. A true leader, after all, is nothing more than an appealing media star as long as he supports a populist agenda!
This, dear Michigan readers, is the bang you receive for the bucks you invested in "Oz: The Great and Powerful." It's a nominally entertaining film that seems more interested in allegorically defending its two-fisted grab of taxpayer money as necessary to fight flying monkeys and witches.
Government gives away tax money to billionaires and huge corporations, subsidizes Wall Street risk takers, insures crazy mortgage loans, and when it inevitably goes to crap, the people say “Capitalism failed!!”
Wall Street? Bankers? The author needs to put down the bong and leave the stale air of his mother’s basement.
Where in Michigan did they film it?
With all the profits the film is making the state should get some money back—or at least some bragging rights and a theme park or something?
Franco is usually pretty good but he really stunk up this movie. He spent half his screen time tilting his head back so you could gaze up his nostrels. And grinning like a baboon.
Raleigh Studios in Pontiac.
My favorite film version of The Wizard of Oz is the one from 1925 starring Larry Seman and Oliver Hardy—before he teamed up with Stan Laurel.
According to the movie, Oz is ruled by a junta of evil noblemen. The wizard, whom they believe is for real, is in cahoots. However, he is actually a good guy, and he smuggles the infant crown princess to a farm in Kansas to get her away from the junta. She is raised as Dorothy, but when she turns 16, she will be handed a document announcing that she is in fact, the Crown Princess Dorothea.
Meanwhile, the junta finds out where she is and sends a goon squad to the farm in an airplane, and they tangle with Dorothy’s relatives and hired hands. A wind soon blows the entire gang back to Oz, where they have many further adventures.
Sounds good, downloading it now.
It wasnt that good. The writing slowed the movie and so did the choice of actors. Not a great film but better than anything else out there now.
Interesting to me that about 12 hours after her term was finished, movie subsidy queen / governor Canada Jenny bailed for the welcoming arms of Berkeley California.
Not enough libs in Michigan for her?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.