As a writer of fiction I am not ashamed to admit that fairy tales played a huge part in me wanting to be a writer. There was always the action, the cool villain, and often a good love story. The Grimm Brothers and Disney did a great job of shaping that side of my tastes. But what about the true events that inspired such tales? Roberta and I reveal some interesting things about them in this latest episode of #thinksipwrite
In the second of my two reviews I felt it necessary to write this one for two reasons… 1) I don’t understand the critics of this film, and 2) Lewis Carroll was a huge inspiration in my own writing career.
That being said this review won’t have spoilers, but will be brief and to the point. Critics have panned this movie so hard, and I just don’t get why. Did they go into it thinking it was going to be an interpretation of the novel “Through The Looking Glass” and came out realizing it was nothing like it and had an older Alice? Did they not see the previous movie and understand that Wonderland is supposed to be a little bit weird?
That’s exactly what this movie is. It’s weird. It’s strange. It’s colorful. The original two novels were all of that and more. This isn’t the second part of Alice’s story, it’s the 4th. This and its predecessor are sequels to the original novels where Alice is grown up now. I give Hollywood credit for making an original story, and I can honestly say this was refreshing.
Would I see I again in the theaters? No. Would I tell you to see it in the theaters? no. But I do think anyone who enjoyed those stories growing up should rent it when it comes out on dvd and blu ray. Don’t see it if you haven’t seen the previous movie because it might make you feel as though you missed something. It references the other movie and doesn’t stand on its own if you’re unfamiliar with its predecessor.
I think what made me like this film, other than seeing it with my daughter, is that it goes out of its way to explain why certain characters are the way they are. Why is the Queen of Hearts so bitter? Why is the Hatter so mad? It does this and more while having a good moral to the story.
It isn’t a movie to be taken seriously. It’s a movie about friendship and fun. A movie about dealing with real life stresses and escaping to a fantasy world. It emphasizes that you cannot change the past, but only deal with it, learn from it and make the best of what’s to come. And most of all it teaches that no matter how bad family feuds can be there will always be a way to patch up those things and find a common respect and love for one another.
The novels were better than the two sequel movies, but I feel as though the sequels fit into and respect the source material. I give Through The Looking Glass 3 out of 5 sCrypt logos for decent story, character and visually stunning effects.
There is a LOT to cover here, but I’ll make it as brief as possible. First off, if you AREN’T watching Once Upon a Time, then you need to stop reading and start at season 1. I guarantee you will get so wrapped up in the characters and stories that you will not stop until you are caught up. There will be spoilers in here so skip to the end paragraph if you want my rating of both shows. Yes, I threw Once in Wonderland in here because to me it is part of season 3 albeit on its own.
I’ll start with part 1 of season 3 Once Upon a Time. The main villain here is Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. The reveal of who Peter truly is in relation to Rumplestiltskin really shows why Rumple is the way he is. Wendy’s story arc is good here, and Peter as a villain works surprisingly really well. He was the villain you loved to hate.
We also see a turn for the better with Rumple and Regina here, that leads to them being more heroic than ever. In fact, it is safe to say they are now heroes for season 3, and likeable ones at that. Neil (aka Baelfire) however becomes the ultimate hero by sacrificing himself to save everyone.
What took me by surprise is that at the mid season break, it finished up that storyline, so instead of one long season arc, we actually got 2 shorter arcs, but I think this was a good thing to keep the show fresh. The episode with Ariel and Eric was satisfying, and seeing that the Evil Queen Regina took on the form of Ursula the sea Witch was fun as well.
Now we get on to Once Upon A Time In Wonderland. It really is ashame that this didn’t get renewed for a second season. I think the time slot was a bad choice. This should have aired at the mid season break slot of Once Upon A Time, but instead was on a different night where not many people tuned in. It DID however give us a good look at Wonderland and those characters, and they wrapped the whole storyline up. Basically, they didn’t leave us hanging to wonder what happened, and they left it open to include the remaining characters in the main show at some point.
Anyway, so we have Alice being taken back to Wonderland to save her lost love, who is a genie. Now keep in mind that this genie, AND the Sultan, are NOT the genie and Sultan from Aladdin, BUT, Jafar is the main villain. Speaking of which, Jafar is one of the best villains on this or the main show to date. His portrayal and agenda echoed what is known of the character, and he is not limited by simple morals. There is a soft side to him, however, which keeps the human part of him real.
Anastasia/The Red Queen was an annoyance at first, but the last few episodes had me liking her. The White Rabbit, Caterpillar, The Bandersnatch, The Knave of Hearts (Will Scarlet), and Alice herself all had great purposes in the series and I enjoyed every moment they had on screen. We even had a little back story with Robin hood and his merry men, which was a break from the norm of the show. The character of Elizabeth “Lizard” was odd at first, but a welcome sight…. until she died, which choked me up a little (I’ll be honest… I never like seeing a pretty woman die).
Cora appearing as the Queen of Hearts was expected, and she lived up to the menacing person she portrayed in the main series. Of course this was all in flashback here, but it was needed for back story. The Well of Wonders and the genies had a nice little plot thrown in there, but we could have probably skipped over that whole angle (though the demon of the well was creepy as hell).
At first I was disappointed by the Jaberwocky, but five minutes after her first appearance on screen, I grew to really like her as a creepy, fear inducing villain, and I hope she comes back at some point.
My only problem with characters here are the Tweedles. I didn’t like how they looked, and I felt they were used inappropriately for the most part. Their roles could have been better planned. As far as overall plot, Jafar trying (and succeeding) in rewriting the laws of magic seems to directly affect the events in the main series. In other words, despite the connection being little to both shows, they seem to acknowledge the events of one another to some extent. One last thing to mention is that there were definite ties to Storybrooke and the real world. I doubt we will ever see Alice again or the Genie, but Wonderland will be back in some form in the main show, I’m sure of it.
Returning to the main series, let’s talk about part 2 of Season 3. Here is where I was highly interested, perhaps more than I’ve been in the whole series. Why? I’ve personally read all 15 of the original L Frank Baum Oz novels, so bringing that in here was more than a welcome sight for me. Before I get into the main plot of this half, I’ll touch on the characters. Aurora, Phillip and Mulan were underused as usual. I almost don’t even want to see them in the show anymore unless some kind of good use for them is found. Rapunzel’s addition felt rushed, and I HATE when they change the race or sex of a character. (IE I don’t want to see a Black Indiana Jones or a white Blade). It annoys me, and especially with Tangled being so fresh in my mind of Disney movies, I had an image of Rapunzel in my head. Other than that, I don’t have an issue.
The new take on Lumiere (the candleabra) was interesting and refreshing. Blackbeard and Glinda, though minor roles, served their purposes and worked well in the story. Dorothy Gale coming to Oz was both hit and miss for me. I liked what they did with her, and how the fairy tale was twisted, but again, this felt rushed. I only hope we see more of her and Oz characters because in the long run, there is a lot of Oz that could still be used (even from the original characters we all know and love, that have yet to appear).
Now on to Zelena (The Wicked Witch of The West). She truly was wicked. I like the explanation of her green appearance (envy) and why she was so wicked. She had similar goals as Jafar in Wonderland, but for different reasons. The use of the flying monkeys and even the great wizard of Oz himself helped her to achieve her goals, but she still met her demise at the hands of Rumplestiltskin.
Of course, then we had the whole Captain Hook and Emma going back in time, but they sorted out the past and returned to a wonderful future. Charming and Snow White named their newborn son Neil. Emma embraced her magic and purpose and decided that her and Henry were going to stay in Storybrooke. Rumplestiltskin and Belle married. Regina and Robin Hood were happy together.
It was all a peaceful ending that made me worry. I worried because I thought “This is it.” Everyone has a happy ending. There is no need for another season. I’m so glad I was proven wrong, but now I have to wait until the Fall for more episodes. Like Once Upon a Time normally does, we are left with massive cliffhangers. In the last two minutes of the show’s season, we learn this. Rumplestiltskin still has his own dagger, even though his wife believes that she is the one that has it. This is sure to cause a problem in the future. Regina, finally void of her Evil Queen status is suddenly screwed by Snow White’s family again, because the one person that Emma saved in the past was supposed to die. That person was the Maiden Marion, who was married to Robin Hood and mother of his child. This then takes Robin Hood away from Regina, and her vengeful “Evil Queen” may or may not emerge to exact vengeance upon Emma for ruining her happiness.
Somehow I think they will avoid this mostly. Why? Henry still believes and loves his step mother, Regina, as a good person now. His love for her will stop her from being as vicious as she used to be. Also Tinkerbelle predicted that Regina is destined to find happiness with the man with the wrist tattoo. Now of course, this could have been redacted because of the whole time travel alteration, but I think that somehow they will work on getting Robin and Regina back on track. After all, he can’t just ignore the feelings he has for her.
Let’s see. What else? Other than a fun Back to the Future reference, and a cameo by a stuffed Mickey Mouse doll, there was perhaps the biggest reveal of all. Regina tells Emma that “You better hope you didn’t bring anything else from the past back with you.” We find out that one of Rumplestiltskin’s artifacts came through the portal. From it escapes a woman in a flowing blue dress and pale skin. We don’t know what her face looks like, but if anyone has seen Frozen, then you know it is the Snow Queen herself, Elsa, as she freezes and shatters the artifact from which she emerged.
Other than the Frozen story coming to season 4, it has also been confirmed that the Knave of Hearts will be making his way onto the main show, and that Disney’s Brave and Princess and the Frog (retelling of the Frog Prince) will all be included in some manner.
This show keeps getting better, and I’ve learned to expect nothing except greatness and frustration on waiting for the next episode. I give season 3 of Once Upon a time 9 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins, and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland gets 6 out of 10 coffins. The reason I rate Wonderland lower is because of the obviously limited budget for the effects, and it really didn’t get compelling enough for me until the last 7 episodes. What did you think of these shows and what do you speculate for the future of the series?
Sam Raimi and Disney’s latest outing has come in with mixed reviews. So how was it really? First off let me say this. I am a TRUE Oz fan. I have read all fifteen original L. Frank Baum books, as well as a handful of short spinoffs that were considered continuity. I own Skottie Young’s graphic novel interpretations, as well as the original special edition of MGM’s Wizard of Oz, and the sequel Return to Oz by Disney. I consider myself an expert on the world as far as a fan can be.
Though I wish that the original 1939 movie had stuck closer to the book (ala the silver shoes being ruby slippers, and origins of tinman etc) I don’t think that that movie should EVER be redone. Judy Garland IS Dorothy, and while I’d welcome sequels and prequels I just don’t think anything should be done with that movie. It is TOO classic. So all of that aside, where does Oz the Great and Powerful come in. I will say this… I’m giving it a 9 out of 10 flying monkeys. That’s right, As an Oz fan, this really pleased me well, (as well as my wife and 2 year old boy, and 4 year old girl who sat through the whole thing without issue). There’s my rating. Now I will get into some of the MINOR SPOILERS. I won’t reveal too many, but if you don’t want to know, then come back after you’ve watched.
The story begins with credits and music by Danny Elfman. The man knows how to make a theme song, and while this one won’t stick as well as his Batman 1989 theme, it still gives you this fantastical feel that immediately brings you into the movie. I saw this film in standard format, but I wish I’d have seen it in 3D. I may still go back to do that, because I felt immersed in the world of Oz nevertheless. I could tell that the 3D was done properly, and from what I’ve heard it was amazing.
Then, in tribute to the original 1939 film, Oz the Great and Powerful opens in a square format black and white setting of 1905 Kansas. This story is a prequel to that classic movie and Baum’s first book. It really does well explaining the back story of how the Wizard got there, as well as the origin of a few other characters. James Franco, while I find is either hit or miss in his acting, did a great job as Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs (or to make it short, he just goes by Oscar Diggs). I was glad to hear why he was called Oz. The novels do mention his full name, and Franco recited the nine names as if they were his own. Oz is a circus magician who is egotistical, pompous and a womanizer. He is a selfish man who will eventually have to make choices and find the good within him.
Zack Braff as his assistant and Finley the Monkey was one of the highlights of the movie as well. The circus shows Oz’s act, and him escaping from the wrath of a strongman. You’ll see why, I just don’t want to give away everything. There are a few hidden Easter Eggs lying around. You’ll notice that the name of the circus is Baum Brother’s circus. A tribute to the author and creator of this fantastic world. Zach Braff’s character was referred to by Oz as a baggage carrying monkey (which he portrays in Oz). Glinda has a counterpart in Kansas, and a crippled girl is recreated in Oz as the China doll princess. This all of course is in tribute to the 1939 film, where real characters end up in Oz being something else or having similar dopplegangers.
Once Oz makes it to the Land of Oz, the black and white as well as the square format, expand into a beautiful world of color and widescreen. You really feel as if you are in the Land of Oz during the whole story. Immediately we are introduced to Theodora the good. From anyone who is familiar with Oz lore, Theodora eventually becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. The cool thing is that you find out why, and actually see her transformation from the stunning Mila Kunis into the hideous witch in this movie. Is she the main villain? no, but she is definitely a perfect and welcome addition. Her tranformation from sweet Theodora into the Wicked Witch is truly frightening and amazing. They even address the whole water being harmful thing.
A few things I noticed that I didn’t like. 1) there are parts of the CG world that seem a little too cartoony, but I’m sure they look better in 3D. regardless, they are stunning visuals. Most of the visuals blend well though. 2) Mila Kunis as the witch of the west was not as wicked seeming as Margaret Hamilton’s 1939 version, but keep in mind that this story is probably a good 30 to 40 years before that movie. The reason I say this is the age of the characters. Oz, Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda are much younger looking in this movie, and it shows sort of how much time is between the two. Mila’s voice in parts was spot on, but not as convincing in others.
Evanora on the other hand (Played by Rachel Weisz) was truly evil. She is the Wicked Witch of the East (you know, the one who gets splattered by Dorothy’s house in Wizard of Oz.) She is manipulative and cunning in her ways. A brief cameo by the Cowardly Lion made me tingle with excitement, as well as a pre-origin to the scarecrow.
As I mentioned earlier Finley the monkey was a great character, but the China doll princess was touching to say the least. Her animation was flawless, and you really cared for the character. She was a welcome addition, and so was China country, which was a major focus in a few of the Oz novels. How Oz comes to find the good within himself, as well as Glinda’s use of her bubble transporting, and the final battle to defeat the witches was really great. I was on the edge of my seat.
Michelle Williams as Glinda the good was very believable. She seemed like a true force for good, and to see her actually face off in a magic battle with Evanora was a perfect ending. Other mentions are the munchkins with their musical number, as well as the people of Oz. They were perfect recreations from the books, and needed in this story.
As emotional as the ending to the Wizard of Oz made me when I originally saw it, the emotions are cued in here as well. Oz giving the main characters “gifts” and how it is done, is touching.
It was announced the other day that Disney had greenlit a sequel based on how projections would be. I will own this movie on DVD, and highly recommend to any fan of books or the films, to go see it in the theater as well. So what could they do in a sequel? I think it would still be another prequel to Wizard of Oz. Here are my reasonings. Much seems to still happen between the end of this movie and the beginning of the original. There are decades in between. So what could happen in the sequel/prequel? Here are my predictions/suggestions:
1) Evanora is in her true witch form now, but she hadn’t had the Ruby (silver) slippers. How did she get them, and what did she do with them to be a threat to Oz. Where in the East did she settle? 2) Theodora is now in charge of the Winkies, and in control of the Flying Monkeys. How did she get them out of the Poppy field? Did she build her wicked castle in the West? What did she do in those years between? 3) China Country in the books was a major setting. How did it get rebuilt? 4) Showing the origin of the Tin Man, and how he rusted. I actually believe that if a sequel was made, he’d be the central character as a human. In the books, a witch (assumingly the witch of the East Evanora) was jealous of his love for a Munchkin. She enchanted his axe which ended up cutting off all of his human parts, which ended up being replaced in tin by the tinkerers (who were introduced in this movie). Oz doesn’t need to even be in a sequel, as the story of Tinman could be the focus.
If Disney needs ideas, they should contact me. haha. Or Skottie Young, whose interpretations of the books in graphic novel form are flawless. Not to mention that he is doing these comics for Marvel, which Disney owns, so he’s already in the family. Bottom line is: Ignore those who are critical because they have no idea what they are talking about.
One other point to mention. There is an animated sequel to the Wizard of Oz coming out later this year called “Dorothy of Oz”. I can’t wait to see what they bring in, but I can’t imagine it will capture the classic feel that this one has.
Thanks to everyone who voted in this round of polls. It seems that Marvel Comics came out on top a second time. While there was a bit of pull for DC Comics’ Aquaman, he had come even with sCrypt Comics’ Poseidon, and a wildcard with a vote for Disney’s King Triton. Namor seems to be ruling the seas for now. His strength and combat experience make him a formidable foe to all who attempt to threaten his waters.
I will leave this poll open, for voting, so keep it coming. Make sure to check out the past comic book battle polls, and partake in future ones.