Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) – with more spoilers than a Fast & Furious movie!

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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!

The original image of the Wicked Witch (of the West) vs supermodel wicked witch. C'mon son!

The original image of the Wicked Witch (of the West) vs supermodel wicked witch. C’mon son!

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.
Oz: Greatness.
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.

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Conclusion: Oz is a dick.

* star

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Evil Dead (2013)

Of course, I shelled out the money to see Evil Dead in the theater. I love horror movies and I love the original. C’mon son! There will be spoilers so read at your own risk. I’m not sure that there’s much to spoil ultimately – it’s a horror movie and a remake. I think most people can do the math.

Generally, the movie follows the same plot as Raimi’s version: five youths go to a dilapidated cabin and one of them unleashes an evil demon and hell (pretty much literally) ensues. Plenty of references to the original and of course, a chainsaw shows up along the way.

The bit that bothered me the most though is how these people came across the evil book. The opening scene shows a group of (weird looking) people persuading a father to burn and dismember his daughter who is a demon. And this book – there are warnings, things are scratched out so they can’t be read easily. It’s clear people do not want others to find it. This group takes care of business and we are transported probably less than five years into the future to our main cast.

They show up and encounter a terrible smell followed by a rug hiding a whole bunch of dried up blood. They go downstairs into the cellar and find a bunch of dead animals strung up and the book sitting there. But it’s bound intricately by wire and a bag.

Don't worry guys - tree rape happens in this one, too.

Don’t worry guys – tree rape happens in this one, too.

BUT IT’S LEFT OUT IN THE OPEN. These people went through a fair amount of trouble to make sure no one opened the book (but come on, it literally just took wire cutters) but opted to leave it sitting out on a table rather than oh, I don’t know, burying it? Or throwing it in a river? Or tearing it up? Or anything? Obviously they knew that people would be returning – there are photographs all over the cabin and they carefully placed the rug over the trap door to prolong anyone finding the creepy sacrificial altar. They did about 90% of the work but apparently the last 10%, the important part, they were just like “Eh, I’m tired. Hope this family that appears to visit frequently never has to go into their own basement and if, god forbid, they do, I hope this wrapped up book doesn’t intrigue them so that they might open it.”

Moving on. The movie is gross, definitely. There is a lot of blood, some scenes that had me scrunching my face up and half covering my face. And that’s really about it in terms of “horror.” It isn’t particularly scary or terrifying (despite the poster boasting that it would be the most terrifying movie ever) but it is gory and gross and still manages to be a little campy. There isn’t a ton of humor but there are bits here and there to keep things a tiny bit light.

The thing that’s interesting about this movie is that the characters are at the cabin for a reason: one of the girls has a drug addiction she’s trying to kick. Of course, she’s the first one who sees demons and stuff and of course, everyone writes it off as her having a difficult detox.

What’s more interesting is if this movie is intended to be a metaphor. The girl is facing her demons – literally and figuratively. And her drug addiction is affecting those around her. Her attempt to kick the habit is tumultuous and makes her feel like she’s being torn apart. The girl goes through hell so that she may survive at the end.

evildeadThe demon thing that shows up at the end is either played by the same actress or looks suspiciously like her (I couldn’t tell. It was raining blood all over). So when she defeats the demon thing, she is defeating herself, her dark side. Moreover, she does so by splitting the demon right down the middle. Perhaps a symbol of the real her and the addict her being split apart?

Or it’s just a movie and they were just trying to give the characters ~depth~.

Ultimately, it was enjoyable. I think I got a bit too excited and expected a bit too much but I still liked it. And it was interesting take on a classic. I don’t think it tarnished the original or sought to outshine Raimi’s version. It was it’s own thing.

*** stars (I took off some stars for it not being that scary and also because of a pretty shitty portrayal of women)

Warm Bodies (2013)

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Ah! A fresh take on zombies. Warm Bodies was either going to be awesome or awful. Okay, maybe it was going to be – as I like to say – awfsome. I hope you’re ready for spoilers because they’re gonna be coming at you left and right in 3…2…1!

Zombies exist. And our protagonist is some zombie teenager or early 20-something (we never really find out). He’s dead but he has complete and hyper-aware thoughts. His narration could pass for something one of those little shits in The Perks of Being a Wallflower would say. So I have to wonder, if he has all kinds of mental capacity to make witty jokes in his mind and take note of everything going on around him…why again is he a zombie and not just a guy who craves human flesh?

Moving on. He’s getting ready to chow down on some people and he comes upon a group of fresh-faced youths. Then he gets a peek at Julie Blonde Kristen Stewart and she’s so pretty he doesn’t even want to eat her.

But he will eat her boyfriend, Dave Franco. And he does. With like, no remorse. In this zombie world, when a zombie eats the brains of a person, he experiences all of the victim’s memories. Meh, not too shabby of an idea. Interesting, definitely.

So he eats Blonde KStew’s boyfriend and just as all of his zombie pals are about to descend upon her with their diseased mouths, he saves her by rubbing some of his weird, brown zombie blood all over her face and says “S-s-s-saaaaaaaaafe” and take her as his captive.

This zombie kid is in love with KStew 2.0. Is it just because she’s so super pretty or is it because he took on some of Dave Franco’s memories so he has this sense of history with her? I have no fucking clue. But he takes her and he keeps her captive. She really is not willing. She tells him to stay away from her and tries to run away. Twice.

And both times he saves her and brings her right back to his “home”, an abandoned airplane with all kinds of hip shit in it – mainly VINYL GODDAMN RECORDS. Yeah. They lay around listening to Bob Dylan and Bon Iver records. I’m so fucking sure. I’m so fucking sure a zombie can work a record player and appreciate how “deep” and “alive” vinyl is.

So what happens? These two craaaazy kids start a zombie/human revolution. They hold hands once and suddenly all of the zombies are like “Now that I’m seeing this…you know I’ve just really lost my taste for brains. I think I’ll just turn myself human!” and they kill the real enemy, the Bonies (skeletons that run in a very unnatural way and eat ANYTHING with a heartbeat), with zero remorse which is really kind of shitty. I mean, the whole time the zombies were like “Have mercy! We’re becoming normal!” but God forbid they give the Bonies a fighting chance to get their shit together.

The humans and zombies band together and an extremely anti-climactic climax occurs. The zombies become humans again. The world shall be restored or as people so cleverly kept saying, “exhumed.” Oh, ha ha, yeah we get your clever joke.

Ultimately, some dude with the urge to eat people kills a nice young man and eats his brain. He then takes said young man’s girlfriend captive, all the while masquerading as her savior. The girl gets Stockholm Syndrome and falls in love with her captor. They turn all the zombies back into humans by using feelings and it takes little to no effort.

There you have it. Nothing about it was compelling, John Malkovich was ALLEGEDLY in this movie but it might as well have been a cardboard cutout of him, and the whol-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

* star (I kind of liked some of the soundtrack for my own ears. And Rob Corddry had like two good lines.