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Feb 152017
 

If you thought you’ve seen every version of The Wizard of Oz, think again. The Wonderful Galaxy of Oz takes a sci-fi turn on the old classic.

Due to a natural occurrence that happens once every 1000 years, noble Dorothy and her dog Toto get swept into a black hole, which takes them to Oz in another galaxy. It’s also neat that Dorothy’s home planet is called New Kansas.

Instead of ruby slippers, Dorothy wears a balloon suit, which is a special kind of safety suit. Secondly, her Aunt Em gave it to her, not the Good Witch of the North. Come to think of it, the Good Witch of the North doesn’t even appear in this version.

Image result for the wonderful galaxy of oz Gloomhilda

Apparently, representing the Tin Man is a robot named Chopper, who works for Dorothy’s family. He goes along to Oz as well. I can’t help but think that his mannerisms remind me of C-3PO from Star Wars.

Upon arrival, Dorothy and Chopper meet their other allies. First is Plantman, who represents the Scarecrow. He has a laid back persona, but can sometimes come off insensitive. Of course that’s all thanks to him not having a brain, so he doesn’t really know any better.

Next is the Cowardly Lion. It turns out that there’s a whole tribe of lions, who are all equally cowardly. The only one who sticks around is their leader Lionman. It’s funny how all of the lions run off all at once. Some of them even shouted, “Run away!”

They all soon make it to the Wizard of Oz, who is actually a scientist named Dr. Oz. (No, not the Dr. Oz with the medical talk show.) Before meeting him, it’s revealed that he has a son, Mosey. You might assume that the story ends here but it doesn’t. The real adventure is only beginning.

As for villains, the main enemy is the evil witch Gloomhilda. At first I thought she represented the Wicked Witch of the West. It turns out that Gloomhilda is her daughter that’s just taking orders.

The actual Wicked Witch of the West is a very creepy entity with a sinister persona. She wears a red cloak to hide her face, which certainly makes her the creepiest version of the witch I have ever seen.

This was an interesting movie version of The Wizard of Oz. It was real adventurous as well as humorous. What stands out most with the humor is Gloomhilda’s General Sludge. He’s not only goofy. Sludge sounds real similar to Pee-Wee Herman. You got to love it.

Oct 282015
 

Welcome to another Halloween themed top 10 list. This year it’s about my most favorite wicked witches in pop culture. Just to set the record straight, there is a difference between witchcraft and sorcery, although it is hard to tell sometimes. Be sure to check out my Top 10 Wicked Sorceresses list for a comparison. Now here are the witches.

#10) Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) from H.R. Pufnstuf: Witches don’t come any sillier than her. In fact, you can tell just by the sound of her name that Witchiepoo is more funny than creepy. She is intent on capturing young Jimmy and stealing his talking flute Freddie, but never succeeds. It doesn’t help that Witchiepoo has bumbling henchmen and a talking castle that doesn’t believe in her. Of course that’s what makes this witch so interesting and memorable.

#9) The Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus: Known as Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), this trio of witches intends to steal the life force from children for the soul purpose of staying forever young. They tend to bumble through situations while adjusting to the more modern world, since they’re from 300 years in the past, but that’s what makes them hilarious. However, these witches are also dangerous and creepy, so you definitely don’t want to get on their bad sides.

#8) Mirror Queen (Monica Bellucci) from The Brothers Grimm: This nameless beauty was vain and selfish, then eventually killed by the plague. Now as a vengeful spirit, the Mirror Queen has the power to possess an entire forest and capture young girls in creepy and mysterious ways to steal their youth. Seriously, what is it with old witches wanting to stay young?

#7) Maja from Adventure Time: This sky witch is known for taking various objects that contain sentimental affection for great power. In addition to that, Maja can fly, shoot bolts of electricity from her hands, and has an edgy distorted voice. At least she believes in fair trade, compared to most wicked witches.

#6) Taminella Grinderfall from Muppets franchise: This character was always cast as the wicked witch in some of the old Muppet fairytale specials like Tales of the Tinkerdee and The Frog Prince. Her methods of deceit are often silly and easy to see through, but they always seem to succeed, especially with King Goshposh. Since Taminella was never featured again after her defeat in The Frog Prince, she has definitely become underrated.

#5) Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) from Harry Potter franchise: Among many of Voldemort’s followers, Bellatrix is the most loyal as well as the most psychotic. She takes pleasure in killing anyone who crosses her and has sparked a personal vendetta with Neville Longbottom, since she was the one who tortured his parents. What really makes Bellatrix stand out is her crazy and sadistic persona, which is something any evil master ought to look for in a henchwoman.

#4) Theodora (Mila Kunis) from Oz the Great and Powerful: The Wicked Witch of the West has always been an iconic character. However, it’s the one in this movie version that stands out because it reveals how this wicked witch came to be. It’s so interesting to know that Theodora used to be good, then was driven to become a heartless monster. I’ve never been able to see the Wicked Witch of the West the same way again after that.

#3) Evil Willow (Alyson Hannigan) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow Rosenberg is a witch that has always been a loyal member of Buffy’s Scooby team. In season six, her girlfriend Tara was murdered and that pushed Willow to a breaking point. That drove her to take revenge and nearly destroy the world. It can be tough to see such a good character go bad, but Evil Willow’s edgy presence and determination makes her a witch you wouldn’t want to face in a dark alley.

#2) Queen Jadis (Tilda Swinton) from Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Best referred to as the White Witch, this self-proclaimed queen rules the land of Narnia with an iron fist and turns anyone who crosses her into stone. She won’t hesitate to hurt or kill others and is quick to judge when her servants’ loyalty is compromised.

Jadis has made appearances in the sequels and even the animated version was good. One thing is for certain. The White Witch is as evil as they come.

#1) Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk) from The Craft: This troubled teen is the head of her coven and desires great power, so she can use it to get what she wants. Eventually, Nancy lets that go to her head and ends up losing her sanity. As wickedly crazy as she is, I think Nancy is also likable, especially when she smiles. That is why I rank her at the top of this list.

Aug 122015
 

The newest movie version of Wizard of Oz to date is Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, which takes place after the events of the original movie.

As a new evil threat occurs in Emerald City, Scarecrow (voice of Dan Aykroyd), Tin Man (voice of Kelsey Grammar), and Cowardly Lion (voice of Jim Belushi) try to bring Dorothy (voice of Lea Michelle) back to Oz with a contraption called a rainbow mover. Even though it’s been years since Dorothy’s last visit, in her world it’s been only a day.

Meanwhile, Dorothy wakes up in Kansas to the aftermath of the tornado. The damage was so terrible all over town that everyone is forcibly evicted from their homes. Dorothy is the only one that’s not willing to stand for it, but nobody seems to listen since she’s not a grownup. Can you believe it?

When Dorothy and Toto arrive in Oz, she ends up off course in a completely different area altogether. She could just follow the yellow brick road to Emerald City, but it’s in ruins. Even in Oz, there’s a problem of weeds growing between the bricks in the ground.

The new villain is simply called the Jester (voice of Martin Short). He’s the Wicked Witch of the West’s brother cursed to only be able to wear a jester outfit. When he tries to remove it, another appears in its place. Now with his sister gone, the Jester is in control of her flying monkey army and is intent on taking over Oz.

The Jester also has the magic broomstick and has used it to turn all of Oz’s leaders into marionettes, including Glinda (voice of Bernadette Peters). It’s a little creepy when the Jester makes the puppets talk. That just goes to show that you shouldn’t take this jester lightly.

As Dorothy heads for Emerald City, she meets some new friends along the way. First there’s Wiser the Owl (voice of Oliver Platt). He struggles to fly and tends to interrupt people. One thing I can’t help but notice is that Wiser’s chest has an imprint that looks like he’s wearing a brown sweater. It makes you wonder how he got it.

The next new ally Dorothy meets is Marshal Mellow (voice of Hugh Dancy) a lawman from Candy County that is made of marshmallows. In a way, he looks like a Nutcracker from the way he’s dressed. It looks pretty cool.

Last to join the group is the princess of Dainty China Country, who is simply known as China Princess (voice of Megan Hilty). She is spoiled and picky when it comes to choosing suitors. Dorothy volunteers Marshal Mellow to be a suitor. He’s against it at first, but does manage to win the princess’s heart. Together they all journey forward and even build a ship out of an old talking tree named Tugg (voice of Patrick Stewart).

This was certainly a good sequel to the Wizard of Oz franchise. However, the timeline is a bit confusing since I remember Return to Oz being the true sequel with a completely different story line, villains, and allies. So where does this feature chronologically fit in?

May 072014
 

We all remember the story of The Wizard of Oz. In fact, there’s a new movie version coming out called Legends of Oz. I can’t wait to see that. Oz The Great and Powerful takes place 20 years earlier, which makes it a prequel about how the wizard first got to the Land of Oz.

Small time magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco), Oz for short, is a con artist and a womanizer. His life soon changes when a tornado whisks him away in a hot air balloon to the Land of Oz. It was clever how the scenes in Kansas were all in black and white before turning to color in Oz, just like in the original Wizard of Oz movie. Apparently this feature goes from full screen to wide screen in the same manner.

Upon arrival Oz meets the young and lovely witch Theodora (Mila Kunis), who tells him of a prophecy that a wizard named Oz would arrive and save everyone from the wicked witch. Now Oz is not really a wizard, but Theodora mentions that Oz will be the king of Oz. So how could he resist not coming clean?

Later, Oz and Theodora meet Finley (voice of Zach Braff) a talking flying monkey. After Oz luckily saves him from a lion, which I assume is the cowardly lion, Finley becomes his companion. I never knew that there were any good flying monkeys in Oz.

After they get to the Emerald City, Oz meets Theodora’s sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz). She tells Oz that he has to kill the wicked witch first in order to become king. Oz certainly has his work cut out for him now, especially since he still has to keep everyone convinced that he is a wizard.

Oz and Finley search for the wicked witch. Along the way they stop at a destroyed village made of china and porcelain called China Town. (Real clever name.) The only survivor is a living china girl (voice of Joey King). She is simply called China Girl because her name is never revealed. China Girl joins the group since she’s very persistent on getting her way.

They eventually find the wicked witch Glenda (Michelle Williams), but she turns out to be good. Glenda tells them the truth and somehow knows the truth about Oz. Just like with the original Wizard of Oz film; there are allies that are much like certain people from Kansas because the same actors play them. Finley is like Oz’s assistant Frank, China Girl is like the girl in a wheelchair, and Glenda is like Oz’s former girlfriend Annie.

 

Theodora finds out that Oz is with Glenda and her heart breaks. Evanora, the master manipulator she is, gives Theodora an apple that changes her into a heartless monster, later known as the Wicked Witch of the West. That means Evanora is the Wicked Witch of the East. Before I couldn’t tell which witch was who because in every other movie version of The Wizard of Oz that I’ve seen, the two witches were never addressed as Theodora and Evanora. They were mainly mentioned as the witches of the West and East.

Even though Oz confides the truth to some of his comrades about him not being a real wizard, he still leads the good people of Oz into battle as if it were one big magic show. Oz has certainly come a long way since he was in Kansas.

This was a great prelude to the original Wizard of Oz feature. Surprisingly, there was no mention of Finley or China Girl in any other version that I’ve seen. So what could’ve happened to them?

Jan 252012
 

The story of The Wizard of Oz goes in a unique direction with The Wiz. Dorothy Gayle (Diana Ross) is a kindergarten teacher in New York City, who lives in an apartment with her Uncle Henry (Stanley Greene) and Aunt Em (Theresa Merritt, who I remember best as Juanita the maid from Billy Madison). Aunt Em wants Dorothy to teach at a high school further into town because it pays more and she can get her own place, but Dorothy is too scared to leave home.

Dorothy’s life soon changes when a blizzard hits and she gets caught in the thick of it, no thanks to her dog Toto for running away. Then suddenly, Dorothy and Toto end up in the Land of Oz, which is more like an urban jungle instead of a magical fantasy world. That gives the story a real creative touch by using big city elements in place of enchanted forests.

Upon arriving, Dorothy unknowingly kills the wicked Witch of the East. (No, not with the apartment building.) Suddenly, she’s greeted by the grateful Munchkins, which are graffiti drawings come to life, and Miss One (Thelma Carpenter), the good Witch of the North, arrives. It turns out that she loves numbers more than the Count from Sesame Street. You can only imagine if they got together.

Miss One gives Dorothy the witch’s silver slippers and sends her to find the Wiz in order to get back home. Of course, all Dorothy has to do is follow the yellow brick road, but no one shows her where it is. I guess the Munchkins were too busy celebrating to point it out. However, Miss One did specifically tell Dorothy to never take the silver slippers off while she was in Oz. So if Dorothy has to walk for the entire journey, I can only imagine the blisters she will have later on.

The running gag in this film is the taxicabs that are found all over Oz. Every time Dorothy tries to hail a cab it’s automatically off duty, even the broken down cabs. What’s up with that?

While searching for the yellow brick road, Dorothy meets the Scarecrow (Michael Jackson), who is being intimidated by a group of crows at a small cornfield in an alley. All the Scarecrow wanted was to get off the pole he’s on and walk around, but since he has no brain, those mean crows easily convince him that he can’t walk at all. Scarecrow also bases his principles on pieces of paper that he finds in his straw body. Did those come from fortune cookies, or something?

After Dorothy saves Scarecrow, they find the yellow brick road together and follow it. Along the way, they end up at an abandoned amusement park, where they find the Tin Man (Nipsey Russell). He’s a robot that has no feelings. Tin Man’s creator forgot to give him a heart, even though he does have a sharp wit and an amazing dancing skill.

Then Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Tin Man find the Cowardly Lion (Ted Ross) in a lion statue in front of the public library. He talks tough, but turns out to be a coward that was exiled from the jungle. Lion eventually calms down and joins the group. I’m surprised that Toto kept up the whole time without a leash.

Down in the subway terminal, the group encounters some cheesy but creative enemies. They include monstrous marionettes, trashcans with teeth, snaky wires in a circuit box, and tiled posts that can walk. Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion escape only to wind up at the Poppy Love Perfume Factory that doubles as a nightclub, which represents the Poppy Fields.

The group soon makes it to the Emerald City, which is set up like a disco tech, and they go see the Wiz (Richard Pryor). However, the only way the Wiz will grant their wishes is that they must kill Evillene (Mabel King) the wicked Witch of the West. She’s a strict slave driver, who runs a sweatshop. Can you believe it?

This was a good movie based on the Broadway musical. I should inform you that none of the songs in this film are from the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie, but that’s part of what makes it so unique.