Legend of Oz: Dorothy's Return
Oz returns in a brand new animated adventure, Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, but is the return to the classic franchise worth the trip. Check out our full review to find out whether or not it's worth spending your time and money on!
When I first saw the trailer to Legend of Oz a couple of months back, I thought to myself "why"? There are already several sequel movies loosely based on the second and third books in the Oz series. I just wonder why no one considers using any of the later books for a screenplay despite a strong PG-13 rating regarding the final book. Even though this story is not part of the official Oz cannon, it does have pedigree. It was pinned in 1989 by none other then Roger Baum (the great grandson of L. Frank Baum). Unfortunately, that is where the similarities end.
The story begins supposedly years after the events of the original Oz story, but in Dorothy's time, it has only been 1-2 days. When a jester (Short) who happens to be the little brother of the Wicked Witch successfully steals big sister's broomstick, he turns the leaders of Oz including Glenda the Good Witch into his own marionette display. Despite the fact the Scarecrow (Aykroyd) is shown to have superior intellect on par with Tony Stark or Hank McCoy ("Beast" in the X-Men Universe), he insists on calling Dorothy back from Kansas because she is the one who can save the day. Meanwhile, Dorothy is having problems of her own as the tornado that teleported her to Oz left her hometown all but destroyed while a so-called "government appraiser" is bullying the entire community to give up and leave town. After Dorothy returns to Oz against her will via a rainbow-gate built by the Scarecrow, she must journey once again in order to save her friends. Along the way she befriends an owl with an overeating disorder, a marshmallow soldier who takes his job too seriously, and a china princess (same "race" as China Girl from Oz: The Great and Powerful) who believes she is holier then thou.
While the movie tries to appeal to general audiences and not just the single digit age group, the studio (Prana) falls in the same trap as other upstarts: They try to hard to be like Disney. The songs in the movie are flat and easily forgettable. In some cases the song numbers do not seem to time well with the scenes they were intended for. Also, you hear Lea Michele as Dorothy sing so over the top it sounds like she's desperately wanting to be the next Idina Menzel (America is FINE with just the one we have). The voice acting is also way over the top when compared to what kids watch today like Avatar: The Legend of Korra or Batman: The Animated Series a generation before. Adults will find Kelsey Grammer's multi-emotional Tin Man annoying and James Belushi's once cowardly Lion now craving ultra violence creepy. However, Aykroyd's Scarecrow was fun to watch and I only wish they had more scenes for him.
The movie is not as scary 1986's Return to Oz, it is not exactly something that is going to be remembered for generations to come. But if you're a parent looking for something to take your single-digit offspring that is not the next Marvel film, then you will find Legends of Oz to be wholesome and entertaining for them. I would advise going to see it at a restaurant-theater (Ex: Movie Tavern, Alamo Drafthouse) because this one is DEFINITELY a two margarita show.