There may be some spoilers below. I’ll try to keep them few.
I have never read any of the Oz books. My only previous exposure to Oz has been the original 1939 movie. It was a tradition in my family to watch that movie whenever it appeared on TV. This was before cable or satellite TV, so we were dependent on when the broadcast networks decided to show it.
Like the original movie, Oz starts in a small town in Kansas, and like the original the movie is black and white until the scene moves to Oz, where the color is bright and vibrant. This movie explains some of the history of Oz that brings back fond memories of the original.
Oscar (“call me Oz”) Diggs is a magician in a traveling carnival. He is also a con-man and womanizer, luring unsuspecting young women with his natural charm and the tantalizing glimpse of his exotic show-business life.
He made a mistake by setting his sights on he wife of the carnival strongman. While being chased by the jealous husband, he climbs into a tethered balloon, but is spotted from down below. As the strongman and his friend haul the balloon down, Oz quickly cuts the rope and drifts into the sky. He is swept into a twister and arrives in the magical land of Oz, where a prophecy by the previous king–poisoned by unknown parties–points to a savior with the same name as the land: Oz.
This movie has many links to the original; in the starting point, Kansas; in the B&W->Color cinematography; in the journey that the main character must make, both in physical space and in their development as a person.
Dorothy’s growth was a realization that you don’t always get what you want, but that family will always be with you and will always love you. And family isn’t always related to you.
Oscar’s growth was is some ways easier, but in others more difficult. Dorothy’s was a normal part of growing up that everyone goes through, but Oscar was already a grown man, albeit a young one. What Oscar had to learn was that honesty and self-sacrifice could be as rewarding emotionally as deceit and selfishness were rewarding physically.
That he did learn his lessons was due to his character, however much he had submerged it in living selfishly.
The actors played their parts well, the pacing was good.
This was an fun movie for the adventure of it alone, but with the awareness of links to the earlier sequel and the themes of character development, it adds layers of meaning that bring a deeper enjoyment to the watcher.
I will be watching this movie again.