As a child, I was a massive fan of the Wizard of Oz, and even played a part in our dance school show of the same name. I also absolutely loved (and still do) Return to Oz. There is just something amazing about the whole story and the famous quotes it spawned, such as "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore"!
When I saw a remake was afoot, I was both excited but also a bit worried in case it ruined it for me. The casting went some ways towards reassuring me mind you, as some great stars have been cast in this.
Lets start with the witches - there are three. This particular Oz variation is set well before Dorothy sets a ruby slippered foot in Oz, focusing instead on the wizard and the witches. So, the first witch, the good one, is Glinda, played by Michelle Williams (Dawson's Creek - big fan). The bad witch is Evanora, played by Rachel Weisz (the mummy and wife of Bond!). The good witch turned bad is Theodora, played by Mila Kunis (Ted, girlfriend of Ashton Kutcher), and is the one who ends up the infamous green pointy chinned witch!
James Franco (127 Hours - eek) played the lead Oz - Oscar Diggs. In my humble opinion, he is fab! The supporting characters and actors make this a real trip down memory lane if you are a fan of the original adaptations such as myself, and you can't help wondering if a remake of Dorothy is following on from this as it does appear to be setting the scene for such.
It starts in black and white, or sepia if you prefer to be specific. I wasn't expecting this and at first thought there was something up with the recording or my TV, then common sense kicked in and I realised it was done for effect. The colour - very bright, very vivid - kicks in when Oz lands in Oz, and to my untrained eye, I think its also for effect in homage to the technicolour of the original.
I also think that Michelle Williams part in Kansas hinted that she was going to become a "Gale" by marriage - Dorothy's mum perhaps? Seems a bit too much of a coincidence to me! Lots more hints of the future story when he reaches Oz in so much as the building of scarecrows (the scarecrow?), scaring off a lion (the cowardly lion?) and the whole point being that Oz was not a real wizard at all - remember the curtain scene in the original?
All in all, if you haven't seen the previous one its probably still going to entertain you. It's bright, exciting, the characters are fab - I particularly loved the little China Girl. If you are a fan already, it really doesn't disappoint and I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I was little, I demanded plaits like Dorothy be braided into my hair - now whilst I think I am a little past pulling that style off these days, I did feel that same enthralling excitement (mind you, I also demanded Princess Leia side buns back in the day!).
This to me is everything that a family friendly film should be, and with a great big dose of nostalgia thrown in for good measure. Go on, indulge yourself - just don't expect Shrek humour or innuendo - it's really not that sort of film!!