And make no mistake, this is a direct prequel to the '30s movie. Again there is no Good Witch of the North; there are but three - Evanora (Rachel Weisz), Theodora (Mila Kunis) and Glinda (Michelle Williams). All of them refer to another wicked witch, and there's no need for me to ruin the "surprise" identity of same, but if you know your Oz in any form, you'll know that at least one of those three can be ruled out. You'll also be amazed at how quickly life-changing decisions are made with little-to-no buildup. When Oz the showman first arrives in Oz the land, he encounters the stunning Theodora, who tells him there's a prophecy that a wizard will come to be the new king. Sensing riches, he plays along, but there's a catch - as in Dorothy's tale, he makes it to the Emerald City to be told he must kill the wicked witch in order to get what he desires. And yes, he meets a couple of unlikely companions along the way: a winged monkey named Finley (Zach Braff) and a china girl (Joey King) who appears to be the last survivor of a flying baboon attack. Both are astonishing effects creations - you never question their reality. I didn't, anyway, and I suspect kids won't either.
Raimi avoids the four color-coded countries of the books too, though he mixes the primary hues in throughout, as nearly everything we see that isn't green is either red, yellow, blue or purple. I raised an eyebrow when the Quadlings were introduced and they weren't wearing red; then, when the Munchkins showed up as singing, dancing little people, I had to take a deep breath. To an Ozophile, the fact that the word "Munchkin" has become synonymous in the language with something little and cute is grating. The Tin Man's a Munchkin, after all - or at least he was until he accidentally dismembered himself and became a magic cyborg. True to Baum, my ass. Need I also point out that the witch in the book was neither green nor pointy hat wearing? Or that the Margaret Hamilton lookalike here sports some pretty cheesy makeup? Anyone who says Oz fans will be satisfied has never read the books; mark my words. Maybe you'll say I shouldn't be so hung up on the books, and maybe I wouldn't be if they hadn't made a point of saying this would adhere to them.
Talk of rebooting The Wizard of Oz after this is just silly, because it leads directly into the existing movie pretty exactly. I'd be more than fine with a genuine, nonmusical reboot, especially if it were to lead to all the books being done, but Oz the Great and Powerful has essentially salted the earth on that score, at least as far as building a Disney franchise is concerned.
They could do a hell of a Splash Mountain makeover based on Franco's arrival in Oz, though.