(2013) An ethically-challenged con man and carnival magician, Oscar Zoroaster "Oz" Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs (James Franco, doing his best to impersonate Johnny Depp) instructs May (Abigail Spencer) - a simple country girl about to become his new assistant and conquest - in advance of his performance in Kansas in 1905 before Annie (Michelle Williams), an earlier favorite from the circus's previous visitation, comes to say she's engaged to be wed, in hopes of Oscar's taking her in his arms instead.
Complimenting her choice of a mate as a good man, Oscar tells her: "I don't want to be a good man ... I want to be a great one" like Houdini and Thomas Alva Edison. "See you in my dreams," he says in parting.
With the help of Frank (Zach Braff) off stage and Annie, Oz impresses his audience until a crippled little girl (Joey King) in a wheelchair begs him to use his magic to make her well enough to walk again. When the circus strongman discovers he's been cuckolded and comes after Oscar, the magician flees via a hot-air balloon, but he's soon caught up in a tornado, which after a stormy ride (during which he makes a promises to change his conduct for the better if his life's spared), sets him down in the Land of Oz.
Up to this point in director Sam Raimi's fantastical adventure and prequel to The Wizard of Oz, the motion picture has been in a black-and-white narrow frame; but the movie (screenplay by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire, loosely based on the works of L. Frank Baum) becomes widescreen and brilliantly colorful as Oscar views an enchanted world. The opening and closing credits are imaginatively inventive; the original score is by Danny Elfman with Mariah Carey singing the theme song.
Soon after landing - "Am I dreaming?" - he's greeted by gorgeous Theodora (Mila Kunis - she has Betty Davis eyes), who introduces herself as a witch anticipating his arrival - "Aren't you the great man we've been waiting for?" - for the previous king/wizard had prophesied the Wizard Oz's coming.
Before setting off on the Yellow Brick Road with Theodora (expectant of becoming Oz's queen), Oscar rescues Finley (voiced by Zach Braff), a winged monkey in a bellboy uniform, from clutching vines and a real lion, convincing both initially of his magical powers. He Oz is to become the new monarch, Theodora's sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz), suspicious of the interloper's possibly being an imposter in the employ of her enemy, explains during a tour of the Emerald City, with access to a treasury piled with gold once he kills the wicked witch - who had poisoned her own father, the previous king - in the Dark Forest by destroying her wand.
Accompanied by Finley, who has pledged an irrevocable life debt, Oz ("How hard can it be to kill a wicked witch?") looks upon the devastation of cracked crockery and wrecked teapot abodes of China Town, where he discovers China girl (voiced by Joey King) with broken legs. After repairing her porcelain limbs with glue from his satchel (which Finley lugs) but unable to grant her wish of resurrecting her family, Oz fails to dissuade her from insisting on going with him to the Dark Forest.
The trio make acquaintance with Glinda (Michelle Williams) - whom Oz mistakenly calls Wanda - a good witch who sets them straight about Evanora; but back in the Emerald City, with Theodora's heart's broken, Evanora persuades her sister to take a bite from a green apple that withers her soul.
Though she's aware of his limitations ("selfish, weak, slightly egotistical, and a fibber") and that the folk of Oz are forbidden to kill anyone, Glinda convinces Oz ("I might not actually be a wizard") he's worthy of being their leader: "You're capable of more than you know..." Up against a pair of evil witches, their flying baboons, and an army of Winkie guards, Oz draws together the various talents of Quadling farmers, tinkerers led by their master tinker (Bill Cobb), and the Munchkins, incorporating them with his methods and machinery of deception and illusion.
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