Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013) star-full1.jpgstar-full1.jpgstar-half1.jpgstar-no1.jpgstar-no1.jpg

Most of us are familiar with The Wizard of Oz. We’ve gone on that whirlwind journey with Dorothy as she followed the yellow brick road with her ragtag group of companions. We’ve all learned the Wizard doesn’t have any real powers and he’s been a sham this whole time, but how did he get there in the first place?

That is fundamentally the premise behind Oz: The Great and Powerful. Just like Dorothy would do years later, Oscar Diggs was also swept up in a tornado and taken to the faraway land of Oz… except he is quickly perceived as the prophesized wizard that will save all the people. Unfortunately, Oscar is little more than a small time magician in a traveling circus. Of course, we all know how this ends and we are already expecting the “happily ever after” right from the beginning. Along the way, we see flying monkeys, meet the three witches and fix a little china doll.

While I would say that Oz: The Great and Powerful has more charm than Jack the Giant Slayer and other recent fairy tale-inspired movies, it still leaves something to be desired. I never really felt pulled in by the magic of Oz and James Franco just felt like an odd choice for the role of Wizard. I realize it’s an entirely different kind of movie, but if you want to see Franco at his best, you’re far better off watching 127 Hours instead.

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

(500) Days of Summer (2009) star-full1.jpgstar-full1.jpgstar-full1.jpgstar-no1.jpgstar-no1.jpg

There is something immediately likable about Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, so when you put the two of them in a somewhat unconventional romantic movie, you’re bound to create something that is likable. Gordon-Levitt’s character works at a greeting card company and Deschanel’s character is the new hire. And what ensues is a 500-day relationship with a surprisingly not as quirky as you’d expect girl named Summer (that’s Zooey).

Even though 500 Days of Summer can be perceived as a sappy romantic movie, there is actually an interesting dynamic that it employs. The action is played out in a completely jumbled order. We may start on day 100, jump back to day 2, lunge forward to day 400, only to come back to day 101. The subtleties of the plot are slowly revealed to us, getting us to reinterpret the action that we have already seen. It can be confusing at times, but it does demonstrate that perspective is everything.

Just as we did in 50/50 (but for entirely different reasons), we’re rooting for Joseph’s character to succeed. We’re rooting for him to really woo this girl and for them to live happily ever after. They are an awfully cute couple and they seem to illustrate what we all want in a life partner… at least most of the time.

Things don’t always turn out the way we plan, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t turn out for the best. And I think that’s a great life lesson that we can all take to heart.