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Thursday August 23, 2007 3:58 pm

‘Oz’ Remake: Exciting or Blasphemous?

Evil Cowardly Lion

I don’t know if anyone could’ve predicted this.

Yesterday, it was announced that a dark re-imagining of the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, resting ostensibly in the dark hands of Todd McFarlane, is in the early stages of production.  The new film will be decidedly more morose and epic than its predecessor, apparently attempting to attract die-hard fans and new-comers alike with grandiose effect and adult themes.

McFarlane, famous most notably for his dark take on the Spiderman character and creation of the Spawn franchise, has stated that he wants to give the story a 2007 wow factorCreepy action figures have already begun to appear on retail shelves depicting a deformed Scarecrow, an alien-like Wizard, and a scantily-clad Dorothy, though it is unclear whether these creatures will be indicative of those to appear on-screen.

But one wonders, while mulling over the concept, whether this remake isn’t ill-advised, especially considering similar attempts already made.  Setting aside 1978’s The Wiz as harmless fluff, the story went through a re-imagining in 1985 with Return to Oz, starring Fairuza Balk as a Dorothy called back to save Oz from a new threat.  While the dark sequel was unique and imaginative, it never emerged from its predecessor’s shadow.  And what about the Tim Burton remake of Willy Wonka?  Many movie-goers—myself included—reviled the film as unnecessary, even abhorrent—a classic case of style over substance.  So, will this new version adequately bring The Wizard of Oz into the 21st century, or will we all long for the giant floating bubble, flying monkeys, and the presence of a good song?  We won’t know until the credits roll.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that the classic fantasy about a girl and her dog, lost in a strange land and armed only with some hapless friends, naiveté, and a strong singing voice, will never be viewed in quite the same way.

Read More | Guardian Unlimited

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