Review: “Legends of Oz” is a rental at best

May 9th, 2014 at 12:01 am by under Entertainment
"Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return" poster courtesy Clarius Entertainment

“Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” poster courtesy Clarius Entertainment

“Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” (2014)
Rated: PG for some scary images and mild peril
Runtime: 1 hour, 28 minutes
Genre: Animation/ Family / Musical

My spoiler-free review:

The little kids (8 and younger) will enjoy it, but they’re also not in charge of your budget… because “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” is not worth the $50 (or more) that a family of four might be shelling out for this mediocre sequel to the “Wizard of Oz” (1939).  Despite the talented cast of actors providing the voices here, this movie is at the level of a TV movie or a straight-to-video, not a theatrical release… I give it 6.0 out of 10.  Its not worth the 3-D dollars and its better to wait for it at a second-run theater, or until its released to rent.

Based on the 1989 children’s novel ’Dorothy of Oz’ by Roger S. Baum (the Great-grandson of L. Frank Baum, the original creator of the “Oz” series of books), ”Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” is supposed to immediately follow the events of the classic movie when Dorothy has recently returned to Kansas and the town is dealing with the aftermath of the tornado.  Since she left, time has passed much faster in the alternate dimension of Oz and the Emerald City is in need of her help, again.

The filmmakers were smart to start in Oz because the animation of the whimsical characters and their world look like a storybook come to life, but the animation in Oz is more believable than the humans back in Kansas.

The casting choices aren’t in doubt, but the decision of which character some of the actors were chosen to voice IS for me.  James Belushi was a good choice for the Lion.  Lea Michele worked as Dorothy.  Martin Short was perfect as The Jester/The Appraiser.  Oliver Platt and Hugh Dancy were great as Wiser and Marshal Mallow.  Megan Hilty, Patrick Stewart, and Brian Blessed were solid as the China Princess, Tugg, and Judge Jawbreaker.  But Dan Aykroyd and Kelsey Grammer should have switched in their roles as the Scarecrow and Tin Man, while older (sounding) actors should have been used to voice Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, perhaps Bernadette Peters, who didn’t sparkle as Glinda.

The development of those characters is the best part of this movie as we once again meet new characters along the yellow brick road – and we quickly understand who they are and why they would want to help Dorothy get back to the Emerald City.  The tie-in between this movie’s villain The Jester and the Wicked Witch of the West in the original “Wizard of Oz” story was also a smart move.

Memorable characters, not memorable songs…. the musical score is good, but the songs were mostly forgettable, eventhough some were written by Bryan Adams.  This is certainly not another soundtrack chart topper like “Frozen” (2013).

Not a bad first movie made by Summertime Entertainment and first movie distrubuted by Clarius Entertainment, its cute with plenty of stuff that kids can enjoy and lots of little jokes for adults, set in a world that’s familiar to anyone who has seen the original movie, but different enough to make it interesting…. however, it felt a lot more like a made-for-TV cartoon movie.

MORE INFO (possible spoilers):

“Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” 

Voices Of: Dan Aykroyd (Scarecrow), James Belushi (Lion), Kelsey Grammer (Tin Man), Lea Michele (Dorothy), Tacey Adams (Aunt Em), Michael Krawic (Uncle Henry), Martin Short (The Appraiser/The Jester), Bernadette Peters (Glinda), Oliver Platt (Wiser), Hugh Dancy (Marshal Mallow), Brian Blessed (Judge Jawbreaker), Megan Hilty (China Princess/Queen Mouse), Patrick Stewart (Tugg)

Director: Will Finn, Dan St. Pierre

Writer(s): Adam Balsam, Randi Barnes – based on 1989 children’s novel ‘Dorothy of Oz’ by Roger S. Baum
(Great-grandson of L. Frank Baum, the original creator of the “Oz” series of books)

The Plot: Dorothy wakes up in post-tornado Kansas, only to be whisked back to Oz to try to save her old friends the Scarecrow, the Lion, the Tin Man and Glinda from a devious new villain, the Jester. Wiser the owl, Marshal Mallow, China Princess and Tugg the tugboat join Dorothy on her latest magical journey through the colorful landscape of Oz to restore order and happiness to Emerald City.

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!

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