Jack and Oz: Which is the Fairest of Them All? (Flack’s Review)

Posted on | March 22, 2013 | Add Comments

The heroes prepare for battle in Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
Oz the Great and Powerful. Jack the Giant Slayer. Two fantasy epics based on classic stories. But which is the fairest of them all? Read on to find out…

Let’s start with Jack the Giant Slayer, a thrilling, adventure with a few issues. The film takes the viewer on an epic journey through medieval lands full of swashbuckling, revolting giants, and a damsel in distress. You know the tale; a boy named Jack takes sells his horse for magic beans, climbs a beanstalk, and slays a giant. Oh, hold on minute. You don’t know Jack. In this version there’s a princess who needs to be rescued (and married), lots of characters who need to be introduced (and get in a good sword fight), and an uncountable amount of  loathsomely grusume mo-cap madness creatures that need to be killed. What’s that loathsome stuff, you say? Giants. Nasty ones.

One ugly giant in Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)

I may be sounding rather harsh on the film, but I did enjoy it. Sure there’s flaws. Some characters are under-developed (a sidekick character, Stanley Tucci’s Roderick) and some scenes are overlong. In fact, I didn’t even tell you about the mini plot holes. But what’s great about the movie? First of all, the actors. Many critics have noted that Nicolas Hoult, who plays Jack, has a bland quality. But to tell you the truth he actually turns in a perfectly solid performance (the best character) opposite the also strong Eleanor Tomlinson.

Bryan Singer does a mediocre job as director, with all his emphasis on battle. He maybe should have focused a tiny bit more on the characters (which are, at least, better than some movies). While I am complaining about the battle sequences, for what they are…well they’re extremely epic. The CG, actors, direction, the battle choreography. The climax is a terrifically executed lesson in crafting a big movie battle. Except there’s one issue. While there’s lots of explosions, flaming trees, and bows ‘n arrows I would’ve enjoyed a bit more classic sword fighting, which we only get a little of.

Throw in some giantly fantastic special effects, grand old sword fighting (though too short), and enough battle spectacle to make most critics angry and you’ve got a film that will suffice the needs of an action film seeking moviegoer. You want a highly exciting, though fairly flawed, candy bag of fairy tale fun? You got it!

Welcome to Oz!

Now onto Oz. I have to say it: I had LOW expectations for this Hollywood gamble. I thought it would be an un-pretty shameful cash in-rip off that would make fans off the original want to skip back down that yellow brick road and all the way back to 1939. Anyway, Oz turned out just fine. First off there is a very pretty opening credits sequence and an amazing old fashioned B&W homage of a half hour opener. And then we are quite literally whisked off into THAT magical land. We are treated to mind-rattling visuals and terrific Ozian back story.

The script is a mixed bag filled with bland lines-and witty ones. The story is great and filled with morals and monsters. The final scene is heartfelt and the best of the film. I wouldn’t be surprised if some viewers cry. A fine mix of the excitement and emotion.

Onto the cast. Well they’re incredible. Each and every lead actor fills their role excitement and surprise. As Oz, James Franco creates a character of magic, wonder, and necessary annoyance. Meanwhile the three witches turn in incredible performances. Rachel Weisz is okay in a small role as Evanora the Bad while Michelle Williams plays Glinda the Good without falling into the goody two shoes character trap. But the one with the best performance is easily Mila Kunis (as Theodora the Good). Not only does she do a great job playing an easily fooled character, she also gets the spotlight in a great scene: a mid-way shocker that turns the story on it’s head with astonishment not seen in motion pictures of late. Too bad a review spoiled it for me (don’t read critic’s reviews of the movie because they’re filled with spoilers…except for mine of course!). As for the Franco’s two companions…well Zach Braff’s lovable and hilarious monkey completely outshines the sappy, predictable china doll played by Joey King. Why? A line about bananas.

Director Sam Raimi bests his work on the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy by combining laughs, thrills, fun, and creativity to create an amazing movie. The special effects are also incredible and surprisingly original. There’s bubbles, smoke, a monkey, a lion, and more to gasp at.

There are some things that don’t happen in the film that you think would. Why? Because they have to tell the story in a way that makes sense compared to the new film. I might’ve preferred one big battle sequence though  that wasn’t really possible considering the “good people of Oz” are NOT allowed to kill. Besides, it might have distracted from the story.

James Franco as Oz and Mila Kunis as Theodora escape trouble in Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

The second time (yes, that’s right!) I saw the film in 3-D. If you’re a 3-D fanatic you’ll like it but if you’re opposed to the added dimension this won’t win you ever. In other words, it doesn’t miraculously enhance the movie but gives a bit more excitement. Sadly there’s only one moment that made me duck and that was near the end of the film.

Jack the Giant Slayer is rated PG-13. Anyone who’s older than 11 should be okay but there’s a bit of romance and LOTS of intense, gross (but never bloody) giant fights. Oz the Great and Powerful is rated PG. Anyone who’s over 9 should be fine but there’s lots of romance involving the wizard (he kisses four characters) and some frightening scenes. However, there’s no blood and little battle sequences.

The Fairest of Them All: Oz: The Great and Powerful beats Jack the Giant Slayer. Oz and Jack are filled with wonderful action, special effects, actors, and direction. Both are great films but Oz has a better story. And in the end, that’s what matters.


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