Sam Raimi's prequel to "The Wizard of Oz" looks to be, as one resident of Emerald City once said, "a horse of a different color." And one with more than a few tricks up its sleeve. Check out the trailer below:
"Oz The Great and Powerful" takes place several years before a certain tornado whisked a certain Kansas girl "somewhere over the rainbow," centering around Oz (James Franco), a stage magician and good-natured con man who dreams of doing something more with his life than just pulling off cheap tricks and illusions. Oz's quest for greatness puts him on a journey via a familiar hot air balloon and, wouldn't you know it, the weather takes care of the rest, transporting him to a world of flying monkeys, poisoned poppy fields ... and, yes, witches, both good and bad.
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The new trailer introduces us to no less than three witches. You know Glinda (Michelle Williams), the Good Witch of the North. But then there's Theodora (Mila Kunis), who introduces herself as a "good witch" ... and takes Oz to meet her sister, Evanora (Rachel Weisz), who is most certainly destined to be revealed as a "bad witch."
"You don't know much about witches," Theodora says to Oz. And, for now, neither do we.
Which bad witch is Evanora? There's no distinction in the trailer between The Wicked Witch of the East or West. Is Evanora the witch who eventually gets squashed by Dorothy's runaway house (the East), or is she the younger version of the witch made famous by Margaret Hamilton ("I'll get you, my pretty -- and your little dog, too!"). And if Theodora is her sister ... is she destined to "go bad" at some point in the film?
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We'll have to wait and see. One thing we'll definitely be getting is an epic witch-on-witch battle -- you can catch a flash of Weisz and Williams engaged in mortal combat near the end of the trailer, as well as a glimpse at the classic Wicked Witch appearance in silhouette.
Beyond that, "Oz The Great and Powerful" looks to be more than just a "prequel to 'The Wizard of Oz.'" Sam Raimi is one of our greatest movie showmen, a P.T. Barnum of cinema that knows how to shock and amaze -- and bring his own unique spin to previously explored territory. Emerald City looks both familiar and brand new, a stunning CG landscape that would make the cast and crew of the original "Oz" think that real witchcraft was involved in its creation. Raimi's "Spider-Man" pal James Franco has a hipster earnestness that makes for an Oz for the 21st century, a charming rogue with a ton of insecurity and a big heart.
And dig those crows chanting "You'll die, you'll die!" That's definitely a flourish from the man who brought us "The Evil Dead."
One final question before we're off to the yellow brick road: Where is Dorothy? Is she going to make an appearance at all? Sure, "Oz The Great and Powerful" takes place several years before Dorothy was even born, but has Raimi found a way to link the two stories? Will the final scene of the film feature a little girl defending her trusty canine companion against mean ol' Miss Gulch?
All will be revealed when "Oz The Great and Powerful" opens March 8, 2013.