Monday, August 27, 2012
After The Wizard — Review
Okay, I'm going to be frank. After the Wizard isn't really an Oz movie. It is most definitely inspired by Oz, but the way the story flows, there a number of unanswered questions. In the end, it's up to the viewer to make up their mind about the story.
We have a young girl named Elizabeth Haskins who lives in an orphanage. Except, she doesn't identify as Elizabeth. She maintains that she is Dorothy Gale from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Never mind that that book was written over 110 years ago...
Elizabeth is visited by the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman who have traveled from Oz in a hot air balloon and have—with the help of many friendly Americans—made their way to Kansas to find her because Oz needs help as people have turned selfish.
Or have they come that far? In one scene, when a caretaker enters the room Elizabeth is talking to the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman in, they suddenly disappear. So, are they really there, or is Elizabeth just imagining them and their trip is entirely fiction within this fictional story? Is Elizabeth really Dorothy, or is she just really imaginative? That's for you to decide.
The premise is really interesting, but unfortunately the way it plays out just doesn't work. There's little conflict. The Americans who the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman meet are just too friendly. Very much, all of Elizabeth's conflict is her maintaining that she's Dorothy while the people running the orphanage tells her she's not and prevent her from adopting a dog she identifies as Toto. There's also a climatic scene with a tornado, but at the end of the story, no real concerns are left. The characters just don't come off as realistic, and I can't connect with them, a critical flaw in the storytelling.
A lot of the dialogue isn't that great. Exposition scenes are far too long and too indulgent (this is a film, show, don't tell), especially when talking about the original Oz book. (The only book the movie acknowledges.) And getting into acting, it doesn't sound too great, either. My little brother (the guy who made the Box of Robbers short) happened to watch the movie with me and pointed out "studio sound" when the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman were in the balloon, which was clearly green screen work.
I understand that the film had a limited budget, but I do believe that budget doesn't mean you can't have a good cast. Now, I'm not saying the cast is bad, but many times, I think that they could have done much better. A lot of the vocal inflection just doesn't feel genuine. When you realize it's a low budget film, you can cut it some slack, but in the last ten minutes, it goes from passable to cringeworthy. I won't say how so I don't spoil it.
Overall, I feel that After the Wizard is rather underdone. It needed a better developed story and some extra strength from the cast.
An Oz fan who wants to collect or see just about any movie related to Oz should definitely add After the Wizard to their collection. Those who don't may want to rent it first.
The DVD doesn't have subtitles or alternate language tracks, but it does have closed captions. There are a good number of special features: cast interviews, director's commentary, the trailer, a photo gallery, and a featurette about the premiere in Kingman, Kansas.
You can buy After the Wizard on Amazon.