Box Office Democracy: “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return”
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is simply irredeemable. I’ve been sitting in front of a blank Word document for over an hour trying to figure out where to start and have experienced new waves of outrage every time I think of another part of the movie. The characters are bad, the story is basically nonsense, it’s ugly, the songs are bad, even the credits are confusing. I don’t know another way to judge this movie to make it look like a success. The 3D stereography didn’t make me want to throw up. That’s the best I can do.
The movie opens by explaining that the filmmakers had no understanding of the story from The Wizard of Oz. Having gotten their gifts from The Wizard in the first film Scarecrow is now a super genius, Lion is ready to fight literally every adversary he meets and Tin Man expresses big emotional responses to even the most trivial events. In this universe The Wizard was not telling these characters that they had these qualities in them all along he literally made them all the best at all of these things by magic. It also means they have none of the character traits they had in any other media you might be familiar with them from. These characters feel like the supporting characters from a bad 90s Saturday morning cartoon.
Fortunately we don’t get much time to dwell on the poor interpretations of the returning characters because they have the most famous voice actors (Dan Aykroyd as Scarecrow, Jim Belushi as Lion and Kelsey Grammer as Tin Man) and they seemingly didn’t want to pay them. As soon as Dorothy returns to Oz she gets a new trio of travelling companions. A know-it-all owl who can’t fly because he’s too fat, a soldier made out of marshmallow who needs to get his own free will and a princess made of china who needs to be less stuffy or picky or something. There’s no Wizard this time around to magically make these people the best at all these things at the end of the movies so their problems are mostly left unresolved. The owl flies by trying really hard but he’s still a know-it-all and isn’t that the bigger problem?
The biggest character failure is in Dorothy herself who simply isn’t good at anything. Perhaps the bloated supporting cast is crowding her out but she never really does anything proactive. She gets out of more than a couple problems by being famous and she’s perhaps braver than the average person but she seems most good at getting men to come and solve her problems for her. I don’t think anyone should see this movie under any circumstances but it’s especially troubling as an example to little girls.
Legend’s of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is also ugly in that way that new CG animated films get ugly. The models are fine, we’ve basically mastered that as a culture by now, but the movements look unnatural even when dealing with impossible fantasy creatures. Moreover, there’s nothing extraneous in any of the scenes. Rendering new objects costs money so if it isn’t essential to the scene objects aren’t there making for very sterile worlds that don’t feel lived in in any real way. This would have been an incredible visual spectacle twenty years ago, but now it looks sparse and ugly.