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Film review: Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return **

By Alexia Evripidou

Devoid of visual magic and any real heartfelt emotion, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is a cheap looking and thoroughly disappointing musical animation, impressive only to young children or extra terrestrials who have never seen an animation before. With bad jokes, highly forgettable songs and two dimensional characters, I turned to counting my yawns as a way to keep myself entertained.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (commonly shortened to Legends of Oz), is a 2013 American 3D computer-animated charmless musical, that is loosely based on Dorothy of Oz by L. Frank Baum, yet another disheartening attempt to be a sequel of the much loved timeless 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. Maybe its time Hollywood considered putting the whole Oz-influenced movie spin-offs on ice for a couple of decades, until we have recovered from the continually cursed let downs.

The film picks up with Dorothy, a cowgirl boot wearing character, waking up in a tornado battered Kansas, having only just returned from the Emerald City. Together with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, they assess the damage and discuss having to sell their home to a property tycoon who is forcing everyone in town to part with their homes.

On a walk with Toto (probably trying to figure out how to escape this movie), she sees a magical rainbow chasing her. The so called Rainbow Mover invented by the now Stephen Hawking’s type of clever Scarecrow, was created to summon Dorothy back to Kansas. And help her old friends, the new and improved Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion as well as Good Witch Glinda; the now anesthetised looking and sounding Barbie doll.

All of them are in a spot of trouble with this season’s new super baddy, The Joker; the Wicked Witch’s eviler brother. Wanting to prove he is the master of evil, he turns everyone he captures into marionette style dolls, which he can control at his bidding using the magic staff. He does however have an entertaining array of joker costumes which he is unable to change thanks to a curse his sister placed on him.

Back in Oz, Dorothy goes in search of the yellow brick road, which is now full of weeds and obstacles. Determined to find her old friends, she picks new ones up along the way: the talkative owl Wiser, a candy militant man Marshal Mellow and the porcelain princess China Princess. Although the new characters are endearing they are rather offputting, unfortunately all of them come across as lackluster. Each has moments where the audience believes the character will take us on some form of journey, but it rarely materialises.

There is a sweet scene where Dorothy and Wiser eat their way freely through Candy Land, fulfilling every child’s fantasy. Followed by an entertaining courtroom scene where all the characters are made out of sweets or chocolates.

Maybe it is because I have been spoilt over the years with wonderful storylines and dazzling animations. But I could be forgiven for assuming that Legends of Oz is the big boy’s poorer cousin of the animated film world. Visually, it is basic Barbie cartoon style graphics, making the characters seem characterless. Legends of Oz would have been far more suitable as a film for television rather than cinema. It is more akin to a dragged out mediocre TV cartoon than an enticing magical Hollywood film.

As a rule, I choose not to know anything about a film before seeing it; to help give an unbiased opinion. Therefore, it came as a complete surprise to discover the number of highly paid leading names in the film’s line up as the film did a convincing job of impersonating a low budget B-movie. Actors, the likes of legendary comediennes Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi or Glee’s very own Lea Michele as well as Frasier’s Kelsey Grammer, Martin Short and many other household names have all got their names attached to this movie.

In fairness, having to watch the film dubbed in Greek, didn’t help. Although the dubbing was good, it took energy from the film and I couldn’t help but wince when the girl singing Dorothy hit a couple of flat notes. Still, with that said, the actual songs themselves were a confusing mish mash of music genres, with rock, classical and musical anthems, it was difficult to understand what experience the film was trying to give us.

To summarise, if you are aged four to nine and are bored, watch this film. If you are a parent and value your time, send your child to see it with someone you want to torture, and watch anything else yourself instead.

DIRCTED BY Will Finn, Dan St. Pierre
WITH THE VOICES OF Lea Michele, Kelsey Grammer, Dan Aykroyd
USA 2013 88 mins

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