I collect wonderful photos from Flickr for use on my computer. They enliven my desktop and are also used in rotation in my computer’s screensaver function. Just to gaze at the luscious nature photos and the odd photo of a child or a dog relaxes me. I would never consider the action of looking at nature photos as ‘escapism’; to me, it’s the appreciation of the beauty and of the eloquent diversity of the Earth’s fascinating landscapes that are, happily, still available for human appreciation.

That’s a little how I felt while watching Disney’s Oz: the Great and Powerful last night. Please don’t call watching a movie like this one ‘escapism’. You might be tempted, but I think you’d be wrong. (Escapism is playing Free-cell during a boring moment at work.)

Granted, the ‘Nature’ evoked in Oz is mostly computer-generated but after garnering only two stars in The Gazette and mostly inspiring scorn at the actors’ performances in The Globe and Mail, the thoughtful movie-goer might decide to forgo a visit to the local Cineplex. Don’t.

This is the third film I’ve seen in 3-D. I’m not a big fan of 3-D but after a while you are hardly aware of it. The first time was watching Avatar, which I enjoyed until the battle scenes at the end. The second time was recently with The Life of Pi, another film which takes you out of yourself, but in a good way.

And then there was last night’s surprise. (My wife was astonished that I would want to see Oz but I shrugged off her remark that I was too old for that type of film.) I was on the look-out for terrible acting but it never came. James Franco was a good Oz, not great, but I don’t think he had to be. Mila Kunis started out weak but overcame her limitations later on in a big way. Michelle Williams was super, but I’m a big fan and would be star-struck watching her read the phone book.

The plot surprised me in ways I didn’t expect. I would never peep a word about plot –I always skip those sections of either book or movie reviews that give even the slightest detail regarding it. But just let me say that you, too, just might ‘escape’ yourself — if you mean the everyday routine and humdrum, the quotidian thoughts that constantly flood the mind — in a fable whose underlying theme is of personal redemption and of discovering one’s inner goodness.

I am pleased that, in a world where truly mindless and juvenile escapism sadly dominates movies nowadays, they are still making films that cover universal subjects, like The Life of Pi did, and which can expand our awareness of life.

wizard-of-oz hologram



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