Return To Oz (1985)
Genre: Adventure Family Fantasy (USA, UK)
Starring: Fairuza Balk (The Craft), Nicol Williamson (The Exorcist III)
Directed By: Walter Murch
Overview: This is a parable of the time Walt Disney rolled over in his grave, as told by Dorothy Gale in her return to the Land of Oz.
Acting: Family films tend to be overzealously acted. Fantasy Adventure films tend also to melodramatically highlight the archetypes of good and evil. The doctor, played by Nicol Williamson, I guess plays the best role in this, or rather plays the least worst, and poor little Dorothy is excused because she's a very young little actress. No great effort was put in the direction, and it's blatantly obvious.
Cinematography: As a child, I remembered this as being exciting to watch, frightening and magical. Let me tell you how stupid I was as a child: I licked a pole in the middle of winter on a dare. It got stuck. I.Q. is something that you're born with, though experience must catch up to your raw intellect. Well I was smart enough in the next few seconds to exhale hot air as I gently tugged my tongue back in my mouth, without any lasting scars, be it emotional or tastebud-inal. Today, also, I was smart enough to know how stupid it was to watch this movie, though I've recovered, only with mild emotional scaring. Good animation wrapped up in a pathetic display of half-assed effort.
Script: Gill Denis and the director, Walter Murch, who also wrote the screenplay for THX 1138, wrote this script. The fact that half the movie is Dorothy saying "This isn't the Oz I remember" in as many different ways as possible is an obvious attempt by these men at creating a code that would be used to rescue them from the grips of their captors. When forced at gunpoint to write a sequel to a classic, they do well in concealing the code, making it seem only like 'bad writing'. The other half of the script is just an attempt to hide said code, though it was clear that the writers were piss-yourself terrified, because it's all stupid puns and statements of the obvious. After some deciphering they're in North Dakota somewhere, and they suspect they'll be buried in a corn field when they're done. May they rest in peace.
Plot: I'm too old and jaded not to see the subtext of this film. Sadly, ever so sadly, that underlying 'raison d'être' is nothing more than the almighty dollar. "Let's make a movie that people will see because they know it, and even if it's bad, we'll have made our money from them anyways. Disney Enterprise will survive." As least that what I picture that board of hand-wringers saying as they curl their evil handlebar moustaches, cackling maniacally. Oh and the plot is identical to the original: girl goes to another land, makes friends, gets quest, reaps reward. It's pathetic.
Mood: The childhood joy of remembrance I had about Return to Oz, as I watched Wizard of Oz made me rush out and see this next, right away. What's worse is that I subjected this to a friend, who had since disavowed my existence and will never believe a single thing I have to say about film ever again. For someone to twist this story all up, making Dorothy younger, having the Land of Oz be drastically different, not to mention the Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man having been completely molested to the point that they're genuinely creepy... I'm ashamed, and I'm sorry!
Overall Rating: 38% (Return To Your Homes, Nothing To See Here)
Aftertaste: This is the kind of movie you regret reliving. This makes you glad you saw this as a child, when you had the imagination to embellish a ridiculous moron holding wheels into a creepy-legged monster who stalks the lonely streets. This is a bad pun with some nice claymation. This is not art, though you can see the art screaming to be released. This is the beginning of the Corporate Disney, and this is the end of an era of integrity. This makes you wonder how your childhood really looks like.