Trailer Tuesdays: Oz, the Great and What Now?

Let’s talk about this:

Before we start, I have a confession to make: I am an Oz purist. I’ve read and re-read the original fourteen L. Frank Baum-penned novels probably a dozen times since grade school. And so I have a couple of canonical issues with this movie before we even get around to the plot part.

First of all, the Wizard was Nebraskan, not Kansan (Kansasan?) and only ended up in Oz because he lost control of his balloon. Twisters are not the only way to travel into Oz. The creatures are also a little irritating-looking. Oz is certainly filled with strange and interesting beings, but they’re not Spiderwick Chronicle-esque faeries; they’re talking animals and one-legged jumping men and proto-steampunk clockwork robots. Even the actual faeries are beautiful humanoid creatures.

There are no characters called Theodora or Evanora in those first fourteen books, so they went and made up some original characters instead of using the wealth of potential source material. And far from being a destined savior, the Wizard actually usurps the throne of Oz from its rightful owner, King Pastoria, and sends the baby heiress Ozma into hiding to cement his rule. And my adoration for the musical Wicked aside, the Witch of the West was never actually green!

…Deep breaths.

Now that my nitpicking is out of the way, why else is this trailer annoying to me?

Well, one of the really cool things about the Oz books is that they were written mostly prior to WWI, and they were adventure books geared toward both sexes, but they almost all had a female lead and a strong and active female supporting cast, from Dorothy and Aunt Em to Ozma, Trot, Betsy, Billina the Hen, and Glinda. This movie takes that legacy of female leads and casts it aside, relegating the women in this movie to villains, sidekicks, or damsels in distress. And that just doesn’t sit well with me. Oz is a land of equal-opportunity heroship, to be sure, but in nearly all the Oz stories I’ve ever read, the plot has turned on a level-headed, spunky young heroine. This move yanks that lead role out of female hands and drops it in a dudebro’s lap.

So did I like anything about this trailer? Well, the color saturation changes were a cool shoutout to the original Wizard of Oz movie, where only the scenes in Oz are in color. There also appear to be some aspects of the book!Land of Oz’s characters, such as the town made entirely of china/porcelain people. Also, I do rather like James Franco. That’s pretty much it.

I’m pretty bummed about this trailer, honestly. It seems more like they took a random-dudebro-thrown-into-fantasyland-adventures storyline and slapped the Oz name on it so that people would be interested in it, rather than trying to make a story actually set in or around the actual Land of Oz, based on the Wizard who actually lived there. I have no great desire to see this movie.

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