Sure, Oz the Great and Powerful was fun to look at and had its couple of “haha” moments, but ultimately, I was totally unimpressed by Sam Raimi’s Oz.
As someone who grew up loving all things Oz – even the freak party Return to Oz movie (Jack Pumpkinhead and the Wheelers are some of my favorite characters) – I figured that this movie wouldn’t live up to anything else Oz related. And it didn’t.
Frank L. Baum’s books are hailed as being the first real example of a feminist hero in literature. You can read a lot more about this elsewhere, because I’m not trying to write an essay right now. Either way, there were women abound – good women, bad women, in-between women – and the books would have easily passed The Bechdel Test. Solid.
But this Oz? Please. Sure, it was a unique take on the story but really? The women in this movie could not have been any…less. This simplistic idea of good=beautiful and evil=ugly is so heavy-handed in this movie.
THEODORA: Ah, the old adage of “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” come to life. She gets the dazzling entrance, entering the frame front and center, with a slow-motion walk where we’re all supposed to “ooh” and “aah” over her. And of course, Oz acts like the womanizer he is and sweeps this (fucking powerful) witch off her feet with a couple of gestures that should hardly seem like magic to a witch.
When homegirl gets a little too serious to fast – saying some stuff about being his queen and spending a lifetime together – he wigs out. So, he’s an asshole that we’re meant to like because hey, he just hadn’t found the right girl to not be an asshole to. But she just screams “CRAZY ATTACHED GIRLFRIEND” and I think we all already know where this story is going.
EVEANORA: The good/beautiful woman that’s clearly cloaking her evil/ugly ways. Come on, we could see that shit from a mile away. She has an ominous entrance where she’s just a silhouette and she has a manic energy about her. She knows that her sister, Theodora, is into Oz and when she realizes Oz is going to end up on the good side, she turns Theodora against him. She tells Theodora Oz was all over her and he was into her, so Theodora runs off crying before turning full on evil/ugly – green, pointy chin, and big nose. That’s right, this douchebag drove her to being the most powerful, evil witch Oz has ever known.
GLINDA: Beautiful and good. Same kind of god damn reveal that Theodora got. Pulls her hood down and shows off her blonde hair and fair skin. And she’s good through and through so she maintains that beauty for the duration of the movie. And she’s powerful. She has a big shield around her “kingdom” and her people bow at her feet but they love her. She is benevolent. She is capable.
And yet, Oz is the big savior. This guy who cons audiences and cons women. He appears to commit adultery with married women. He’s greedy. Oh, sure, at the end of the day he does the right thing but for 90% of the movie he’s an asshole and the development of him realizing the error of his ways and deciding to do the right thing comes from out of nowhere.
So, all of these powerful women are reduced to nothing by this asshole; Eveanora is scared away by him, Glinda is entranced/in love, and Theodora is spurned by him, muttering “I may not be able to kill you, but I can kill the one you love! I hate you,” like a girlfriend who’s been unceremoniously dumped.
Really? This is the movie they chose to present to people? Moreover, Frank L. Baum – the author of the Oz series – firmly believed there should not be romance in children’s books. God forbid two attractive characters work together to do something great and high five at the end rather than kissing dramatically.
I know it was just a movie and one primarily meant for kids or whatever, but c’mon. Look at the obvious sexualization of those witches!
And God, Oz is still such an asshole at the end. He gives everyone gifts and when it comes Glinda’s turn this is what happens:
Oz: I saved the best for last. For you, a sight envied by all and seen by none. You’ll be astounded by what you find behind the curtain. (They go behind the curtain and Oz shuts it with a satisfied grin. Then they’re standing unnecessarily close, face to face.)
Glinda: Oh my! It’s very tight in here.
Oz: It’s nice, isn’t it?
Glinda: I know what you’re up to wizard.
Oz: What? I’m just giving you a tour. And I want to thank you. For opening my eyes.
Glinda: And what do you see?
Oz: That I have everything I ever wanted.
Glinda: For the record, I knew you had it in you all along.
Glinda: No. Better than that – goodness.
And then they mack. Something about that shit rubs me the wrong way. One, he’s such a creepy prick – knowing full well that he intends on getting handsy with her and referring to it as “saving the best for last.” Fuck you, Oz. And then! He’s like “ha ha! I’m great! I’m the greatest! I’m amaaaazing!” when really she was just trying to tell him he’s a good guy.
Conclusion: Oz is a dick.