Saturday, May 03, 2014

Angelo's Review: 'Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return'

Nearly eight years after it was announced, the animated musical adaptation of Roger Baum's book Dorothy of Oz has finally made it to the big screen.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, directed by Dan St. Pierre and Will Finn, met all of my expectations- which were very high to begin with. The film succeeds because it pays homage to previous Oz adaptations (the opening credits sequence, for instance, is very clearly inspired by Journey Back to Oz) in a way that is charming and nostalgic.  

The songs, written by Bryan Adams, Tift Merritt, Jim Dooley, and Jim Vallance, have a timeless quality to them, while still contemporary and fresh. "When the World" and "Even Then" are as good as anything on Broadway, while "Work With Me" and "Candy Candy" are catchy and fun. The score, composed by Toby Chu, is engaging and complements the film really well. I'd like to see the score get a full release sometime in the future. 

The cast is perfect. Lea Michele's Dorothy is brave, sweet, and charismatic. Jim Belushi, Kelsey Grammer, and Dan Aykroyd are fantastic as the Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow; they're hilarious as a group and individually. Megan Hilty, Oliver Platt, Hugh Dancy, and Bernadette Peters are all wonderful as well. Martin Short, of course, steals the show as the Jester, the Witch of the West's younger brother. 

The weakest part of this film is, obviously, the animation, done by Prana Animation Studios. It's not horrible, but there are a few moments where it is distracting. Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, for example, are very robotic and hardly have any facial expression. I also would have liked bit more expression from Dorothy when she belts out "When the World" at the beginning of the film. 

Legends of Oz captures the spirit and magic of the Oz we know and love, while being something new and different. I hope that moviegoers give this film a chance. I'm already making plans to see it again!

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return opens in theaters nationwide on May 9. See it in 3D!

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