Oz: The Great and Powerful – Review

Oz Witch
(Walt Disney Studios)

A step forward from 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, Oz: The Great and Powerful is able to mix beautiful cinematography with a well-constructed story and well-developed characters. Where Alice failed, Oz comes on strong and is an example of what Disney should continue to do if the company decides to continually remake the classic tales.

Oz (James Franco), while a manipulative man, is easily likable as the story moves forward. He’s a bumbling con artist of a man, but his kind smile and naïve ways make him an amicable hero. Joined on his adventure through Oz by Glinda (Michelle Williams), Oz is able to take back the land, which is rightfully Glinda’s.

Mixing female villains and heroines, Oz: the Great and Powerful proves that female characters are just as important as the male ones, even if the hero of the piece is a male. Glinda, a secondary character to Oz, is able to steal the spotlight when she goes up against one of the Wicked Witches, proving that even alone she is just as great and powerful as Oz, not needing him to be by her side for her to come to the aid of her beloved city.

This film serves to help propel Disney in the right direction, arguably a somewhat feminist revision of a classic that will serve as an example for other Disney films to come. [subscribe2]

About Anthony Comella

Anthony Comella
Welding feminist theory with horror film criticism, Anthony seeks to help empower women's voices... all the better to scream louder with!


  1. Hi Anthony! I haven't seen 'Oz…', but from what I've heard it isn't so much a feminist revision as something of a step back from the original L. Frank Baum novels. The series (unofficially edited by his wife, herself a mainstay of the the feminist movement) unashamedly put women centre-stage – and so I wonder if the addition of Franco, and indeed the character of Oz are indeed necessary. Perhaps they are simply the additions of a Hollywood studio still too nervous to dispense with the idea of male characters as necessity. What do you think?


    • I went into the movie with these comments in my head and I was expecting to be hugely disappointed, but I have to say I don't agree with these views so much and you know I would be the first person to call the film out for them. There are definitely moments where the typical Hollywood structure exists (IE The romance between Glinda and OZ that doesn't need to exist and is completely unnecessary) but the character of OZ does exist within the narrative and therefore I think it is fair to focus on him.

      The movie presents Oz as a bumbling character. He's manipulative, a thief and a con man, but he isn't someone we're told to hate. It is Glinda, actually, who has to come up with most of the solutions to get them out of trouble and while Oz shows fear in certain situations it is Glinda who seems fearless, powerful and strong.

      I could go into more detail but I'm stupidly choosing to comment on this first thing in the morning! However, I think Jezebel (which I assume is where you got this information from) has many moments of reverse sexism where instead of being feminist it just attacks men for the sake of attacking me (I'm not saying all the articles, but in the case of OZ I think this is true).


  2. Ok, I thought I just left a comment on this, but maybe not…try again later!

  3. Cool. I just couldn't see it straight after I left it is all.

  4. Yes I also hope this film propels Disney to the right direction, but I think the settings of the story,or the background is so surreal that it may have weakened the heroine image.. What I mean is that since this story takes place in the imaginary world , not a real world, it is not easy to connect the heroine image of the film to the heroines in reality. But still..yes I really like the attempt they've shown in the film and the way they express the image of an independent woman !!

    • 서현우 hope you check this out 🙂

    • Hey, Taehee!! Have you seen the film yet? I think you'd really enjoy it. I understand what you're saying about feminist representation in fantasy vs realistic fiction, but I think they did a really good job with Oz. Check it out! 😀

    • Hi, Tae Hee! Thank you for your comment. ^^ I believe that realistic and non-realistic (fantasy) stories are both very important and necessary. For some people, you are right. Some people need a more realistic story to connect with the heroine (or hero). But for other people, fantasy stories can express real-life topics and issues symbolically in a way that is more powerful and emotional.

      All mythology (신화) and fairy tales (동화) from all cultures – Greece, Egypt, China, Korea – express real-life topics in symbolic ways. Stories like "The Wizard of Oz" and "Alice in Wonderland' are the modern "children" of these ancient myths. They contain the same very powerful, very important lessons for children and also adults.

  5. Haha, I DO get a lot of my info from Jez, it's true! But, because I am a studious feminist I read about the Baums a while ago. I do agree that sometimes articles on Jezebel come across as man-hating, and I think the site and its message suffer for that. In this instance though I didn't read it that way, but understood the author as being disappointed at a missed opportunity for having a fairly high-profile film with female leads. Just wondered what you thought about that. As I said, I haven't seen it though – for all I know the story depends on the presence of Oz's character! I"ll give it a watch, I think…

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