“RETURNING TO OZ IS ALWAYS ROUSING WHEN YOU HAVE DANNY ELFMAN ALONG FOR THE RIDE”
“Oz The Great And Powerful”
Music By Danny Elfman
Does Not Include Mariah Carey’s hit single.
Disney / Intrada D001809202
27 Tracks/Disc Time: 66:34
“The Wizard of Oz” is one of the greatest films that every generation has seen in one way, shape or form over the years. Even the songs are still memorable after more than five decades which had a profound impact on the music world from the unforgettable “Over The Rainbow” in which many artists have re-recorded the song over the years in their own renditions and including its’ surprisingly memorable use in John Woo’s “Face/Off” during a shootout scene come to mind and “We’re Off To See The Wizard”, which is unforgettable in its’ fun way. Many people have tried to do a nice homage to the film or re-imagine it in a somewhat contemporary setting in films like “Under The Rainbow” Starring Chevy Chase and Carrie Fisher and “The Wiz” starring Diana Ross and the late Michael Jackson amongst an all-star cast. Then in 1985, Disney made a sequel to the much beloved classic in “Return To Oz” which starred the always beautiful Fairuza Balk (“The Craft”, “The Waterboy”) and was directed by super film editor Walter Murch (“Apocalypse Now”, “The Talented Mr. Ripley”, “The Conversation”) which was a dark vision as opposed to “Wizard’s” cheerful disposition. Now four decades later, Disney has released the prequel to “Wizard of Oz” directed in the more than capable hands of Director Sam Raimi (“Evil Dead”, “The Spider-Man Trilogy”), who’s brought a grand vision to the project. The film stars James Franco as Oscar Diggs, a small-time circus magician with no ethics, is taken away from his dusty Kansas surroundings to the vibrant Land of Oz where he thinks he’s hit the jackpot-fame and fortune are his for the taking. However, when he meets three witches, Theodora (Oscar nominee Mila Kunis), Evanora (Oscar Winner Rachael Weisz, who steals the show) and Gilinda (Oscar nominee Michelle Williams) who mistake him for a grand wizard of all the land that they have been expecting his arrival. Soon he’s reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its magical inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late by using his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity-and even a bit of wizardry. Through this Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well than he thought he would ever become.
The film was just released on 3D-Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray and DVD just last last week to very successful results after a terrific box office showing despite mixed reviews earlier this year. With Sam Raimi behind the camera to supervise this epic CGI spectacle, he entrusted the music to one of his more personable and exciting collaborators in Hollywood still going strong today. I’m talking about Danny Elfman, who’s exciting music has graced the hit “Blue Sky Studios” animated hit, “Epic” and won accolades with the brilliant film “Silver Linings Playbook”. Working with Raimi several times on films such as “Spider-Man”, “Spider-Man 2”, “Darkman”, “A Simple Plan” and a brief contribution to “Army Of Darkness”, Elfman has created some very dark, but also very memorable and wonderful landscapes of memorable melodies and music that still resonate with most moviegoers and soundtrack afficionados today. The music for “Oz The Great And Powerful” features alot of Elfman’s charming and distinctive sounds that he’s become snynomous with in films like “Edward Scissorhands”, “Batman”, “Dolores Claiborne” and “Sommersby” to name a few. The huge orchestrial sounds mixed an enchanting chorus with its’ angelic voices with the occasional edge towards darkness.
It is a rousing effort that is easily plays off his current score for “Epic” with alot of fun and gusto. “Main Titles” Elfman leads us into this mystical world of wonder with a circus like theme mixed with chorus. He establishes the moods of Oz as seen through the eyes of Franco’s character with some whimsical, wonderous moments in “Oz Revealed”, “A Strange World”, “The Emerald Palace”, Treasure Room/Monkey Business” “The Bubble Voyage” and “A Con Job” which showcases what Elfman has done best in scores like “Alice In Wonderland” for example. He then switches modes and brings a haunting, brooding elegance in “Bad Witch” showcasing a violin and choir which finds its’ way in “Great Expectations/The Apple” and leading the darker material ahead in “Theodora’s Entrance/A Puppet Waltz”, “A Threat” and “Destruction”, the latter track channeling some of his music from “Spider-Man 2”. Elfman forges an elegant little march for “Call To Arms”, which is very tender and very rousing that leads the albums best material in the end that includes ” Oz The Great And Powerful”, “Fireworks/Witch Fight” and “Time For Gifts” which are very melodic and sweet like most of the material in the score.
Walt Disney/Intrada’s album is a wonderful recording and in continuing their partnership with Disney, Intrada’s top notch production of the album continues with this CD and it’s always good to see Elfman’s work well taken care of. This score is a good solid album that should be played with “Epic” as a double feature which most fans will enjoy both very much. Thumbs up for its’ rich melodic material.