Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tin Man

Two little princesses, dancing in a row,
Spinning fast and free on their little toes.
Where the light will take them, no one ever knows,
Two little princesses dancing in a row...

Okay, so I've seen Tin Man. Twice. And first off, it is better on the second time around.

The story opens with a young woman named DG who lives in Kansas with her folks. She has strange dreams where she sees strange scenes and a beautiful woman with lavendar eyes speaks and sings to her. She is a free spirit, ready to tease Officer Elmer Gulch (yes, you heard right) on her motorcycle.
But a storm is coming...
DG and her parents are surprised one night by men in strange trenchcoats. DG is led to the roof by her parents and is made to jump into a tornado!
DG awakes in a strange country, where she finds ruin from her house in Kansas, no sign of her parents, and midgets who capture her, believing her to be a spy of the Sorceress Azkadelia. While imprisoned, she meets Glitch, a man with a zipper in his skull. Half of his brain has been removed, so "sometimes my synapses don't fly right." He reveals that DG has entered "The O.Z.," the Outer Zone.
DG and Glitch escape, and wind up rescuing Wyatt Cain, a Tin Man, one of the Mystic Man's police force. Cain helps them save Raw (a "viewer," a half beast/half man race. Raw himself bears a resemblance to the portrayals of the Cowardly Lion by Bert Lahr and Ted Ross.) from becoming dinner in the Fields of the Papay.
As they take the Old Road (or "The Brick Route") to Central City, DG discovers that the O.Z. is in fact her home. She finds her "parents" (or, as they call themselves, "nurture units") are more android than human. In fact, they are not her parents. Her mother seems to be the mysterious woman from her dreams.
DG and her comrades make it to Central City, where they see the Mystic Man, who reveals that DG needs to unlock her memories, so DG must go north.
As DG journeys the O.Z., she (and we, as the audience) discovers many fascinating items of her past. Azkadelia is wicked, or is she? Who are her parents? Who was the other girl she lived with in the O.Z.? What secrets lie in the past of Glitch and Cain? And what is the Emerald of the Eclipse, and where is it?
The acting in Tin Man is superb. Zooey Deschanel as DG is endearing, although some feel her natural charm was wasted on the role. Alan Cumming is hilarious and serious as Glitch, pulling off the role with a professional air. Neal McDonough is dead-serious as Cain, but can be emotional when he needs to. Raoul Trujillo is excellent at re-inventing the mighty, sniveling beast. And Kathleen Robertson... WOW! She pulls off evil in a way that rivals Tilda Swinton!
The special effects and CG are almost believable. Not quite lifelike, but these work excellently.
The story is captivating and intriguing. The writing is simply delicious. However, something lacks: there is a lot of backstory not explained in the 4 & 1/2 hours that Tin Man approximately runs for. I would like to see the story continue, myself. Maybe a sequel, or TV series, or series of sequels, or even a comic book series?
Tin Man is not The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, nor does it pretend to be. It is a tribute to how adaptable Baum's story can be.
Great job, SciFi!

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