The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

RETURN TO OZ (1985) **

Dorothy (Fairuza Balk) hasn’t been right ever since that tornado destroyed her house in Kansas. For one thing, she doesn’t sleep well anymore and she keeps blabbing on about lions and scarecrows and shit. There’s only one thing for her Auntie Em (Piper Laurie) to do: Send that gal off to get some shock therapy! Before the doc can sizzle her bacon, the lights go out and Dorothy is magically whisked away to the world of Oz where she encounters talking chickens, robot dudes, and a pumpkin man. Together they help Dorothy unseat the scary Nome King (Nicol Williamson) and naturally get back home.

I think people were too hopelessly in love with the original Wizard of Oz to give this 46-years-after-the-fact sequel a chance. Me, I was never a Wizard of Oz fan myself. It’s a cool kids movie; no more no less. Despite that, I had my hopes for this sequel.

Things start out appropriately dark and freaky with the shock therapy scene. And once Dorothy arrives in Oz, her run-in with the creepy “Wheelers” (who are kinda like a newfangled version of the flying monkeys from the original) is equally eerie. The sequence with a princess that keeps her spare heads in glass cases would probably creep out younger viewers too.

However, once Dorothy and Co. go and seek out The Nome King, the movie goes downhill fast. The whole second hour is just dull and is seriously lacking the charm (and darkness) of the first hour. I was also a bit surprised that The Tin Man, Scarecrow, and The Cowardly Lion got the shaft in this one and were more or less reduced to fleeting cameos. (It’s not as bad as what they did to Tron in Tron: Legacy, but it comes close.)

On the acting side of things, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Out of everyone, I thought Piper Laurie fared the best as Auntie Em. Fairuza Balk had some big ruby slippers to fill (sorry, couldn’t help myself), but she does an OK job. She’s especially good in the Kansas sequences, but ultimately she just doesn’t have to chops to carry a film involving chickens and robots convincingly the whole way through.

Despite having a handful of memorable moments, Return to Oz is one place not worth returning to.

Tags: kids, r, sequel
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