Wizard of Oz is often cited as one of the greatest family films ever made, although I can’t ever imagine sitting down to watch it with my father. Certain people would not care to admit it, but it’s impossible to watch the damn thing without admiring something. The amazing sets, rich colour palette, simple yet charming story and the energetic and vibrant performances.
Forty years later Disney Studios acquired the rights to the Oz source material and went about making a sequel, which sounds like a great idea. However, it’s often forgotten that Disney was in kind of a rut at this point in time having released a string of films that ranged from forgettable (Robin Hood) to outright duds (Dragonslayer).
Enter Walter Murch, who makes the bold decision to take things in an entirely new direction and give the material a much darker and realistic edge. Usually, this would be something to be admired, especially today where we are seeing shameless rehashes of original films that bring nothing new to the table. Unfortunately, this film is a rare exception to the rule.
Now this isn’t going to be your typical review, because
I’m lazy I don’t think I can handle going through it again. Instead, I’ll give you guys a basic overview and attempt to justify my extensive hyperbole.
In this film Dorothy is played by a very young Faurzira Balk of The Craft and Waterboy fame. Young Dorothy has been unable to sleep since her first visit to Oz and yearns to return. Naturally Auntie Em is concerned and more then a little sceptical about Dorothy’s claims, and so decides that the best thing for her is to be committed to an asylum for a healthy dose of shock treatment. Lovely stuff.
Thankfully Dorothy escapes before said treatment can be administered and is able to find her way back to the magical land of Oz, where a gay time can be had by all. Oh, except that Oz has been taken over by an evil sorcerer who has turned all of the inhabitants to stone, abducted the Scarecrow and turned Lion and Tin-man to stone. Dorothy of course, sets out to put things right and is soon on her merry way down the yellow br……oh, that’s gone too. Still, at least Dorothy has some enchanting new companions to help her out along the way.
Joining Dorothy this time around is Jack Skeleton’s touched in the head cousin Jack Pumpkinhead (No that’s actually his name), a talking hen, a flying moose and a dead eyed clockwork paedophile – look at that moustache). Oh and yes that is The Scarecrow apparently fresh out of rehab. Christ, even Tim Burton’s worst cheese induced nightmares don’t reach these levels of weird and if you think these guys are unsettling just wait until you see the film’s rogues gallery.
That’s King Nome, he’s pretty evil, trying to take over Oz and as far as big giant rock men go he’s pretty scary but he’s got nothing on our next subject.
Princess Mombi. She’s the Vader to Nome’s Palpatine and rules Oz with an iron fist and her 30 interchangeable heads. Oh yes. Said heads are also fully conscious and not only act as some unpleasant palace decorum but, in one of the most disturbing scenes ever put to screen, double up as an effective burglar alarm.
Then, last but not least there’s Mombi’s henchmen, The Wheelers. What are the Wheeler’s you ask?
We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.
Still, Dorothy ends up saving the day, returning Oz to its original state and returning home. Upon returning home she learns that the asylum she was sent to at the start of the film has burnt down and so it’s back into the loving arms of Auntie Em. It’s uplifting stuff.
I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that the film failed miserably at the box office and combined with the failure of their animated fantasy epic The Black Cauldron (Another overly dark children’s film) Disney ended up having one of their worst financial years ever, coming dangerously close to bankruptcy. Despite the film’s failure at the box office, the film has since developed a cult reputation and continues to terrorise a new generation of children thanks mainly to the wonders of false advertising, guilty parties include sadistic TV schedulers (Avoid those OZ double bills) and Disney themselves.
Return to Oz is the cinematic equivalent of meeting an attractive woman who looks to give you the best night of your life, however , upon comitting yourself, said woman turns out to be riddled with herpes, no point pulling out early though because the damage is done and you may as well see it though to the end. But these situations are best avoided as they can only lead to a lifetime of emotional problems, therefore my advice to you is to STAY FAR FAR AWAY FROM THIS FILM.
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