|Oooh’s and Ahhh’s: Disney’s Oz: The Great and Powerful dolls are works of wonder.|
|Written by Stephanie Finnegan|
|Thursday, 07 March 2013 16:12|
Opening nationwide on March 8, “Oz: The Great and Powerful” is peopled by a cast of talented actors and dazzling special effects.
Usually when I venture out to a multiplex—let’s face it, seeing a movie at home is much more comfortable—there has to be a reason to lure me off my comfy couch. I saw “The Life of Pi” in an actual Cineplex this year (it was a birthday gift for me), and the 3D effects and Surround Sound made it a thrilling experience. Before that flick began, there were coming attractions for other films that were also being offered in 3D. One of these was the updated version of “Oz,” and I must say the three-dimensional aspects looked phenomenal. Instantly I turned to my friend Cathy and said, “I have to take the kids to see this!” She was noticeably shocked, because I am not one to envision future outings. Obviously, this movie had me with its lush colors, eye-popping set design, and over-the-top costuming.
My children, who adore the Disney TV channels, had been viewing ads for this movie for about three months now. Some might call it “indoctrination”; I call it “niche marketing.” Both kids—a girl, 8, and a boy, 10—are eager to see this spectacle. They never ask to go to the movies since we always rent from Redbox or splurge on an occasional on-demand title. This movie, though, really seems like it needs to be watched on a big, enormous, wide-as-the-wide-open-world screen.
In case you’ve missed the advertisements for this epic, it’s a lavish Disney retelling directed by Sam Raimi, the gentleman who has helmed the Spider-Man and the Evil Dead franchises. It stars Academy Award nominees James Franco and Michelle Williams, Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz, and men’s magazine favorite Mila Kunis, the actress who has won the sexiest woman alive banner from several publications and websites. (If there were votes open to the public, I think my husband would be stuffing the ballot box in her favor—pardon the icky imagery.)
So, this movie has me and my children excited to witness it—more than that, become immersed in it. And, since this is a Disney production, the studio executives know that here is a bonanza of collectible tie-ins. Seeing the gorgeous costumes and the exquisite coiffures, I instantly knew one thing for sure. There were bound to be unbelievably beautiful dolls from this screenplay. And there are.
Madame Alexander, Tollytots, and the Disney Store exclusives are some of the manufacturers that are unveiling characters from the brand-new storyline. The sculpting on these re-creations is first rate—truly fabulous. No matter the price point for Tollytots or the Disney Store (whether it’s $19.99 or $34.99), extreme care and meticulous dedication were poured into these faces. The dolls really look like portraits of the stars. It’s great handiwork. For the Alexander Doll Company, the dolls are more about the costuming and the rendering of the characters in Madame’s unique, recognizable style. The fantasy theme works wonderfully well with Alexander’s charming couture designers.
It’s amazing that the original, classic musical of the Baum book (1939’s “The Wizard of Oz”) debuted 74 years ago. The Judy Garland vehicle seems as fresh today as it must have in its pre–World War II screening. I don’t know if this updating and reimagining is going to have as long a shelf life. (I doubt it—nothing new ever seems to outshine the original source material.) But I think that the Disney name has a definite cachet to it, and it’s quite remarkable that this is their first foray into the Land of Oz. Having acquired the rights to the Marvel comic-book universe, Star Wars, and now Oz, Disney will be able to put its stamps on the legends of yore and the myths of contemporary visionaries.
Since Disney is omnipresent in our lives—television, films, books, Internet, apps, stores, hotels, theme parks—everything but cemeteries (I’m waiting for the “suspended animation” mausoleum)—the Oz name is an important acquisition. The new film is rightfully named “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” and that could be about the character as well as the potency of owning the rights to produce and manufacture these perennial childhood favorites. Shall there be rides at the theme parks based on this film? Runaway balloon rides—all programmed and engineered—over the skies of Disney World or Disneyland? I sure hope so!
Will there be other adventures matching Oscar Diggs, the Franco character who evolves into becoming Oz, with Dorothy, the Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Min? A definite possibility.
For now, this new entry into the Oz canon is chockfull of brilliant images and some heart-touching moments. In the teaser, there is a little character known as the “China Girl,” a walking/talking porcelain doll. When she is embraced by Oscar Diggs, the scene grabs right at the heart of doll collectors and moms everywhere.
Whether you see this movie or not, are charmed by it or are left cold, one thing remains clear: the China Girl doll is a sure-fire tearjerker. Reach for your handkerchief and for your credit card, I think this is a collectible doll that will prove extremely popular and lovely. The witches are all extremely ethereal and compelling; the China Girl is delicate and beguiling. She is bewitching. Let’s see if the new Oz dolls conjure up magic with collectors, or if they resist their spells.
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