This has been one of my favorite movies since childhood, around the time where the Wizard Of Oz pretty much resonated in my life. It was something about the Land Of Oz that captured me. Beautiful but dangerous, strange but whimsical. And it was one of the few children's novels I read many times than most fairy tales. I was much more familiar with the 1939 film than the book when I was a wee little child, though about around age 5 or 6, I stumbled upon this little video store called Video Spectrum. It was at the time where I was looking for every Wizard Of Oz adaptation there was.
Once I found what I was looking for I was distracted by adorably cute art cover and in an instant I got my mom to rent for me.
But boy was I in for a surprise.....
I wasn't particularly frightened by the dark, mature nature of the film but this was far from the happy, jolly musical I grew up with. The movie was much more high adventure, with the stakes higher and the villains much more frightening.
I swear both Mombi And The Nome King would put the wicked witch to shame.
But beside all that, I fell in love with this movie. After watching this, I became more interested in dark fantasy kids films that was pretty much underrated among the mainstream. However, Return To Oz was indefinitely misunderstood. Robert and Ebert named it one of the worst films of 1985 because they grew up more with the 1939 movie than the book, and was pretty much upset of the ominous atmosphere of the film when case in point, the books had some dark themes as well.
It was all but forgotten until I discovered it and even since then my obsession with The Wizard Of Oz grew.
Books, Toys, Merchandise you name it. I was all over it until the age of 12.
So this is my dubious honor to Return To Oz, Who celebrated it's 30th anniversary a few days ago. Now before I begin my good points with the film, there are some flaws here and there. My main problem is how Dorothy would run all the way to the Emerald City in what seems like just a mere minute. In my eyes, It was a pretty long journey so it would be in impossible for her to approach the city with no problem. In my opinion though, they should've placed the setting in the Land Of Ev from the Ozma Of Oz novel. That's probably the only minor problem, nothing much else really. But for those of you who don't know, this is more of a semi-sequel to the 1939 movie, having elements from both the film and the books which I liked.
The acting is fantastic, especially from showstoppers like Piper Laurie's small role as Auntie Em and Nicol Williamson as the Nome King.
But the biggest star of them all is Fauriza Balk in her first starring role. Never have I seen a child actress with such maturity and grace, having the exact manifestation of Dorothy in the book. She's brave, practical, and a lot more effective than Judy Garland's Dorothy (just my opinion, guys).
The biggest showcase of Return Of Oz is it's special effects. To the animatronic structures of our favorite Oz characters maintaining the exact same illustrated sketches from the novels to continuing human-like transformation of the Nome King, it shows that the special effects crew put a lot of hard work into their craft. This was way before CGI and I have to say that even 30 years later it still holds up quite well. I like how it's a mixture of both the books and the movie, though the only element I could find was the iconic ruby slippers that would always gives a little color and imagination to the World Of Oz, fitting the film perfectly.
Major props to Walter Murch, which is sadly his only directing credit. It's a shame because he has a really good eye along with the classic music score the feel of a Wizard Of Oz movie.
By and By, it's movies like this that inspire me, Movies like this is the reason I have a rich imagination, and it's movies like this is the reason I'm an aspiring writer. So this is my tribute to Return To Oz, a truly underrated classic.