James Franco rivals his calamitous performance as Oscar host in Disney and director Sam Raimi's gargantuan attempt to turn L. Frank Baum's children's novels-- and one of the most beloved of all Hollywood movies-- into a wellspring of fresh product tie-ins and theme-park rides. A wildly inventive, unpredictable actor when he wants to be, Franco is all wrong for the role of a huckster sideshow magician who finds himself somewhere over the rainbow, trying to convince the good people of a besieged kingdom that he's their prophesied savior. Reading his lines with the sneering warble of the young Dennis Hopper and flashing a strained smile that's more disturbing than dashing, Franco may be the least convincing flimflam man in movie history, more young Norman Bates than the man who would be Oz. He's surrounded by a Day-Glo freak-out of special effects and two very resourceful actresses, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams, reduced to glowering at each other and unleashing bursts of electromagnetic fury from their fingertips. If only the movie could run off with Mila Kunis's radiant Theodora, a nominal "good” witch whose passions rage louder than most, who gives her heart too willingly and, who, when betrayed, turns positively green with jealousy. She's by far the most dimensional being in this flaccid 3-D affair.
Sam RaimiMila Kunis, James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Abigail Spencer, Joey King, Zach Braff, Martin Klebba, Ted Raimi, Bill CobbsL. Frank Baum, Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-AbaireJoe RothWalt Disney Pictures