REVIEW: LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY’S RETURN

CAST

Lea Michele (Scream Queens)
Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters)
Jim Belushi (Red Heat)
Kelsey Grammer (Bad Neighbours 2)
Tracey Adams (American Horror Story)
Michael Kravic (Ghosts of Mars)
Martin Short (Mars Attacks)
Bernadette Peters (Annie)
Oliver Platt (2012)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Megan Hilty (The Good Wife)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Richard Steven Horvitz (Power Rangers)
Tom Kenny (Super Hero Squad)
Cam Clarke (He-Man 2002)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)

In the Land of Oz, the Emerald City’s co-leaders the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion discover that an evil Jester has stolen the broomstick of the late Wicked Witch of the West and taken control over the Flying Monkeys. With Oz’s future at stake, the Scarecrow decides to use his invention called the Rainbow Mover to summon Dorothy Gale to save the kingdom again. But flying monkeys invade the castle and force the trio out the window.

In Kansas, Dorothy’s farm has been wrecked by a tornado, leaving it in disrepair. A sleazy man claiming to be a government appraiser arrives and condemns the farmhouse, handing the Gales an eviction notice. Dorothy discovers people all across town have been handed the same notices and are moving on. Dorothy and Toto encounter a rainbow which abducts them, transporting them to Oz, but not to the Emerald City as intended.

Dorothy meets Wiser, an overweight but intelligent owl who cannot fly. They enter Candy Country, where everything is made out of confectionery including the people. They are promptly arrested by Marshal Mallow for breaking the “no eating anything made of candy rule” due to the Jester tampering with the signs and taken before a court presided over by Judge Jawbreaker. When Judge Jawbreaker finds them guilty, the lollipop stenographer asks for their names to put on the death certificates. Upon realizing who Dorothy is, Judge Jawbreaker drops the charges of eating candy and releases her and Wiser. under the suggestion of Judge Jawbreaker, Mallow joins the group on their way to the Emerald City as a promise he made to find the missing General Candy Apple. Meanwhile, Glinda confronts the Jester in his castle, who has attached his sister’s crystal ball to her broomstick, creating a magic staff which he has used to turn Oz’s leaders (with General Candy Apple among them) into subservient marionettes. Glinda also falls victim to this as well.

Dorothy’s company enter the Dainty China Country and require permission from the vain China Princess to pass through her kingdom. With Mallow posing as a suitor, the group enter the China Princess’ castle and see her rejecting potential suitors but is enchanted by Mallow’s singing. An earthquake caused by the Jester damages the land, prompting an angry China Princess to blame Dorothy for the Jester’s torment but agrees to allow her group to pass through on the condition she accompanies them. Finding a bridge to the Emerald City destroyed, the group decide to construct a boat but all the talking trees refuse to co-operate, except an aging tree named Tugg who is carved into a galleon. They sail into the Emerald City, finding it abandoned, only to be attacked by the Flying Monkeys. Dorothy’s group escape into a cave system but tumble down a waterfall.

The China Princess is shattered by the fall and presumed dead, prompting Dorothy to head for the Jester’s palace alone. Mallow mourns the princess, and sings to her about his newfound love for her, discovering she is alive and fixes her. Mustering up his confidence and strength, Wiser manages to fly off to aid Dorothy. Dorothy and Toto confront the Jester, who plans to kill her, only for Toto to drop a curtain on his head, with the lead Flying Monkey named “You” stealing the Jester’s staff to regrow its wings after the latter shrunk them. As the Jester gives chase, Dorothy reunites with her captured friends and they confront the Jester on the rooftop. In the ensuing fight for the staff, Dorothy falls off the roof but is caught by Wiser.

The rest of Dorothy’s friends arrive with Tugg built on wheels, engaging the Flying Monkeys in battle. The Jester tries to rid himself of Dorothy by summoning a tornado but Dorothy’s own magic breaks the spell damaging Oz and freeing the marionettes. The Jester is nearly sucked into the tornado, but is saved by Dorothy. However, when she casts the staff into the tornado, the Jester throws himself in after it and vanishes. Glinda appears and sends Dorothy and Toto home.

Reuniting with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, Dorothy rallies the townsfolk to stand up for their homes, discovering the appraiser is a con artist using multiple fake licenses to commit crimes. He is arrested by the sheriff while his lackey runs off. Everyone starts to rebuild their town with Dorothy’s farm being among those rebuilt.All in all this is a film that the whole family should find charming and fun. And at 88 minutes it is the perfect length to tell the new Oz story while keeping your attention. Ignore those critics complaining about the quality of the animation. Its a kids’ movie, for crying out loud!

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REVIEW: OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

CAST

James Franco (This Is The End)
Mila Kunis (Ted)
Rachel Weisz (The Bourne Legacy)
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
Zach Braff (The Ex)
Bill Cobbs (The Bodyguard)
Joey King (The Dark Knight Rises)
Tony Cox (Bad Santa)
Stephen R. Hart (Silent Hill)
Abigail Spencer (Rectify)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Ted Raimi (Xena)
Martin Klebba (Project X)

In 1905 Kansas, Oscar Diggs works as a magician in a traveling circus. An inveterate womanizer, Oscar flirts with the circus strongman’s wife, and the strongman threatens him. Oscar escapes in a hot air balloon, but is sucked into a tornado that takes him to the Land of Oz. There, he encounters a kind and naive witch, Theodora. She believes him to be a wizard prophesied to destroy the Wicked Witch who killed the King of Oz and take his place; the idea of being an immensely wealthy monarch makes him immediately accept. En route to the Emerald City, Theodora falls in love with Oscar, though he does not reciprocate her feelings. They encounter the flying monkey Finley, who pledges a life debt to Oscar when he saves him from a lion. Oscar reveals his deception to Finley along the way, forcing him to help maintain the lie that he is the ‘Wizard’, much to Finley’s irritation.

At the Emerald City, Oscar meets Theodora’s older sister Evanora, the Royal Advisor. Evanora tells him the Wicked Witch resides in the Dark Forest and can be killed by destroying her wand, the source of her powers; only then will Evanora consent to make him King of Oz. Oscar and Finley are joined en route to the forest by China Girl, a young, living china doll whose village and family were destroyed by the Wicked Witch. Oscar fixes the China Girl’s broken legs with glue. They reach the forest and retrieve the wand, but they discover the “Wicked Witch” is Glinda the Good Witch who identifies herself as the daughter of the late King, revealing that Evanora is the true Wicked Witch. Evanora sees this with her crystal ball and tricks Theodora into thinking Oscar is trying to court all three witches. She offers the heartbroken Theodora a magic apple that she says will remove her bad feelings about Oscar; Theodora bites it and realizes that Evanora had been deceiving her, before she is transformed into a monstrous, green-skinned version of herself. Glinda brings Oscar’s group to her domain in the south of Oz to escape Evanora’s army of Winkies and flying baboons. She confides to Oscar that she knows that he’s not really a wizard, but still believes he can help stop Evanora. As he reluctantly takes charge of an “army” of Quadlings, Tinkers, and Munchkins, Theodora enters Glinda’s domain and angrily reveals her new, hideous appearance to Oscar. She threatens to kill him and his allies with the Emerald City’s well-prepared army. Oscar despairs of his chances. After telling China Girl about the exploits of his hero Thomas Edison, he conceives a plan that relies on trickery and makes preparations with Glinda and the Munchkins.
Glinda and her subjects mount a fake attack on the Emerald City using an army of scarecrow puppets whose true nature is hidden by thick fog. The witches are tricked into sending their Flying Baboons through a poppy field that puts them to sleep. However, two of the Flying Baboons and Evanora capture Glinda, but cannot find her wand, which was taken by China Girl. Glinda is then brought to the city square and chained. Oscar infiltrates the Emerald City with his allies, but appears to abandon them in a hot air balloon which he loads with stolen gold. Theodora destroys the balloon with a fireball, but Oscar was never actually in the balloon. As the Wicked Witches prepare to kill Glinda, Oscar secretly reveals his engineered death to his friends. Using a hidden smoke machine and image projector, he presents a giant image of his face amid smoke and flame as his “true form”, and calls upon “the stars themselves” (a fireworks display) to intimidate the Wicked Witches. Evanora fearfully hides in the castle, while Theodora eventually flies off on her broom after her attacks fail to hurt the “invincible” wizard. Oscar calls after her, telling her that she is welcome to come back if she overcomes her wickedness, but Theodora screams defiance at him and flies to the west, leaving Oscar saddened. China Girl frees Glinda, who engages in a magical duel with Evanora in the throne room. During the fight, Glinda destroys the Wicked Witch’s emerald necklace that hides her true, crone-like appearance. Defeated, the banished Evanora is rescued by the two remaining Flying Baboons, swearing revenge as she is carried east.
Oscar, now ruler of Oz, uses his projector to sustain the belief he is a powerful wizard. He also presents gifts to his friends: Master Tinker, who helped build his machines, receives Oscar’s camping tool; Knuck, the grumpy Munchkin herald, receives a mask with a smiley face; the long-suffering Finley receives Oscar’s friendship along with his top hat; and China Girl accepts her friends as her new family. Finally, Oscar takes Glinda behind the curtains of his projector, thanks her for making him a better person, and they kiss.
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The film, a prequel to ‘The wizard of Oz’, the tale  of the magician (played magnificently by James Franco) and his journey to Oz is well played out. It is a great tale and fun for everyone.

REVIEW: THE WORLDS GREATEST SUPER FRIENDS

 

 

 

CAST (VOICES)

William Callaway (Darkwing Duck)
Michael Bell (Samurai Jack)
Danny Dark (Melvin and Howard)
Shannon Farnon (Burke’s Law)
Olan Soule (Perry Mason)
Casey Kasem (Transformers)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Stan Jones (Transformers)

 

Season 4 is comprised of 8 thirty-minute cartoons (about 22 minutes without commercials):

1. “Rub Three Times For Disaster” (Original air date 9/22/79)
2. “Lex Luthor Strikes Back” (Original air date 9/29/79)
3. “Space Knights of Camelon” (Original air date 10/06/79)
4. “The Lord of Middle Earth” (Original air date 10/13/79)
5. “Universe of Evil” (Original air date 10/20/79)
6. “Terror At 20,000 Fathoms” (Original air date 10/27/29)
7. “The Super Friends Meet Frankenstein” (Original air date 11/03/79)
8. “The Planet of OZ” (Original air date 11/10/79)

(1 disc) Total running time approximately 3 hours.

 

have to say that the picture and sound quality are quite good. There are no bonus features other than a few unrelated trailers, but that’s okay. Next to “Challenge of the Super Friends” ‘World’s Greatest’ is my personal 2nd favorite season of the series. Both are fun but also have a bit of darkness to them that still stand out. Many of Season 4’s episodes were influenced by a classic story and/or a famous author, such as Mary Shelly, L. Frank Baum, and J.R.R. Tolkien. These influences helped improve the storylines quite a bit.

My personal favorites are “The Super Friends Meet Frankenstein” and “Universe of Evil” written by Jerome Bixby. The idea of having evil versions of Superman, Batman, Robin, and the others (including Gleek) doing horrendous things was quite something to see back in the day. The specific look that was given to evil Superman was quite effective and still holds up.

It has a tremendous nostalgic influence to see these classic cartoons even today.

 

REVIEW: TIN MAN

CAST

Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Alan Cumming (X-Men 2)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Kathleen Robertson (Bates Motel)
Raoul Max Trujillo (Highlander 3)
Callum Rennie (Legends of Tomorrow)
Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws)
Blu Mankuma (Robocop: The Series)
Anna Galvin (Caprica)
Ted Whittall (Smallville)
Gwynth Walsh (Star Trek Generations)
Kevin McNulty (Elektra)
Jason Schombing (Sanctuary)

The first section of this mini-series is riddled with references to the original story and the musical so many of us grew up with. I was expecting that. But imagine my surprise at the presence of machine guns and chain saws in Oz.  it is now called the Outer Zone, or the O.Z. Then, of course, there are hologram projectors, machines that can project what is in a person’s mind, and cyborgs. After the first section, it grows even farther from the old story. There are still references, of course, but it’s definitely not what we knew anymore.

Our heroine, DG, was born in the O.Z., but sent away as a child for her own protection. Unlike her somewhat whiny predecessor, this woman has a bit of attitude and brains. And some serious guts, as she demonstrates when she tries to help a family being attacked by Longcoats, the Sorceress Azkadelia’s henchmen.

Zooey Deschanel does a great  on her portrayal of D.C.. Azkadelia is definitely a far cry from the ugly Wicked Witch of the West. She may be beautiful, but don’t let that fool you. The old witch has nothing on this new version when it comes to evil and cruelty. In place of the Scarecrow, we have Glitch. Once a genius and Royal Adviser to the Queen, he has been reduced to a sometimes annoying, but lovable ditz. This, of course, is because he only has half a brain left. Literally. The witch had it removed so that she could use his knowledge for her own purposes. He keeps what marbles he has left sealed in his head with a zipper.

Replacing the Lion is Raw, a strange, but gentle creature with psychic abilities. Despite his timid ways, Raw is very capable of being brave, especially when it comes to his friends’ safety. The Tin Man is Caine. Or, rather, former Tin Man. “Tin Man” is the term used for police in the O.Z. He lost everything when he was discovered to be fighting for The Resistance. Worse, he was imprisoned in a sealed tin suit for years, forced to watch a holographic image of his family being tortured and taken from him over and over again. All he has left is the idea of revenge and keeping DG safe, since she is the only one who might be able to defeat Azkadelia. The Wizard is anything but wonderful. He might have been once, but has been reduced to a stoner dependent on Vapors, a magic equivalent of ecstasy. Still, in his sober moments he is a big help to the heroes.

The flying monkeys are still in. The old version, ugly though they were, still managed to have a slight cuteness about them. Not these. When they’re not out doing her dirty work, they accompany Azkadelia everywhere in quite a surprising way. Toto is also still in… sort of. The little dog is actually a shape-shifter who was once a teacher to both DG and Azkadelia. After 15 years of imprisonment, he is all too willing to help his former pupil.

Overall, I was impressed. There are spots that could have been better and things that could have been more thoroughly explained, but the concepts and story are quite imaginative. It is really long, but definitely worth at least one watch.  However, I must confess, I’m a little confused as to why it is titled “Tin Man.” That implies that Caine is the main focus of the story, which he is not, although he is given a much more significant role in this version. Oh, well. It was still good, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.