LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN Review
It’s a fresh new tale filled with beloved characters, and new likable ones.
Everyone has Oz on the brain, from Wicked still packing theater seats, and Once Upon A Time traveling to Oz and bring some of it to reality. Capitalizing on that love and adoration is the newest Oz filled tale Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return. Filled with magic and packed full of the beloved characters from the original and a few delightful new additions, the movie tries its hardest to live up to the original, and while fun and entertaining it doesn't quite capture the heart of The Wizard of Oz.
Dorothy Gale returns to Kansas to find it devastated. While many years have passed in Oz, to Dorothy it has only been days. When the entire Land of Oz finds itself in grave danger, her old friends: the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion find a way to bring Dorothy back to Oz to save it. On Dorothy's new journey through Oz, she meets new friends like a china doll princess, a marshmallow man named Marshal Mallow, a large owl named Wiser, and an ancient tree-turned-tugboat named Tugg. With the help of her new friends, they band together against a wicked Jester who wants to control Oz by turning its most important people into marionettes.
While the story is as fun as the overly bright animation, it is that animation that is the greatest flaw. Produced by Prana Animation Studios, many of the characters lack facial expressions and are wooden. While kids may not be bothered by this, adults certainly will, as the lack of expressions make many of the voices feel flat. This is especially the case with Lea Michele’s Dorothy. Although she leads a star filled cast, including Martin Short, Jim Belushi, Kelsey Grammar, Dan Aykroyd, Megan Hilty, Oliver Platt, Hugh Dancy, and Bernadette Petersher. Dorothy is the poorest performance, which is a shame since she is the title character. She’s still brave and sweet, but she lacks a certain fire that Dorothy has always possessed.
However, Martin Short is made for animation, no matter how bad that animation is. He absolutely steals the show as the Jester, the Witch of the West's younger brother whether he’s monologuing or pouring his soul into a song.
In fact, the soundtrack is certainly catchy and fun. It features songs written by Bryan Adams, Tift Merritt, Jim Dooley, and Jim Vallance, which definitely enhances the enjoy ability of the story, but it does not have anything emotionally driven or memorable enough to knock Frozen’s “Let it Go” off it’s pedestal anytime soon. Lea Michelle’s singing vocals are certainly where her talent shines.
While Legends of Oz does not reach the high bar set by The Wizard of Oz it’s a much better jaunt into that nostalgic land, than Oz the Great and Powerful was. It’s a fresh new tale filled with beloved characters, and new likable ones. It takes a page out of the Shrek book by adding a little bit of bawdy humor that adults will enjoy, while still entertaining the kids. Best of all, it reignites the imagination, and offers a new chapter to a beloved classic.
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