Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return Reviews
Dorothy wakes up in her house fresh off the legendary tale from the Wizard of Oz. Her house has been destroyed and some realeastate developers quickly move in to force her family out of the area. Dorothy stands by her family until she is contacted by Oz and asked to return and save them. Dorothy may need to save her world and Oz.
"No good can come from the reign of a fool."
Will Finn (Home on the Range) and Daniel St. Pierre (Everyone's Hero) collaborate to deliver Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return. The storyline for this picture is just okay and only so interesting; however, the portrayal of some of the legendary characters was fun and the animation style was very well done. The voices fit the characters well.
"They were real people..."
I was excited to see this with my daughter when the trailers first aired when it was in theatres; however, we just recently got around to watching it off Netflix. It was very average and a bit disappointing. It reminded me of Hoodwinked in a way (from a quality and feel standpoint). This is worth watching once with your child but may not be worth adding to your DVD collection.
"There will always be a rainbow when you need one."
The charm and satisfying nature about "Legends of Oz" hinges on three factors: 1) the characters 2) the tone and 3) the music. First, the characters were magical extensions of their 1939 MGM counterparts; Wizard of Oz is the type of story so well-suited for animation, I find it puzzling that studios haven't ventured into L. Frank Baum's world more often. Scarecrow, (who is now a genius with a straw head full of Einsteinium equations) is my favorite, and is appropriately voiced by Dan Ackroyd. I especially have respect for the character designs and voice-work of Tin Man (who falls to pieces and is at times emotional,) Lion (now fearless,) and Glenda (big-headed, wasp-waisted, and has a "wicked" sense of humor to rival her former sisters.) I found Dorothy to be an extremely sympathetic, girl-next-door-type, and filmmakers' decision to cast the melodious "Glee" star Lea Michelle was the best bit of voice casting for an animated film this of 2014. Dorothy never falls back into submission to men like so many Disney Princesses before her; the finale of "Legends of Oz" finds our plucky heroine as the strongest individual to confront the evil Jester. She does it alone. Speaking of the Jester, Martin Short seemed born to play this part. He was able to be villainous without conforming to a "Wicked Witch"-brand of evil; he still has time to juggle balls and ride a unicycle on top of everything else he does.
The film's tone, as mentioned before, is the second factor contributing to "Legends" enjoyability. It refreshingly tells a story right without overly resorting to sarcasm and wisecracks. Its humor is comparatively simple, compared to those recent Pixar-Disney offering, which shout from the rooftops their cleverness and talk viewers to death with a million words per minute. While "Legends of Oz" does get chatty at times, (especially scenes where Wiser the Owl is present,) most of the dialogue is purposefully directed and is delivered with simplicity and concise articulation to appeal to its young 21st Century audience.
The last outstanding aspect about this film is its soundtrack. And that's saying quite a bit, as this film was released mere months after the new benchmark in animated musicals, "Frozen," was unleashed onto the world. While "Legends" does not soar to the lofty heights of "Frozen," the songs (many which were composed by Bryan Adams,) are quite good. Just the fact that this is a musical is commendable in itself, as the current animation industry is still characterized by a plethora of non-musical buddy comedies. "When the World" is the highlight, and is every bit as catchy and memorable as "Frozen's" "Let it Go." The song is sung during Dorothy's depressed attempt to pick up the pieces to her broken life; yet, the there is also a sense of hopefulness to this song. The duet "Even Now," between Hugh Dancy's Marshall Mallow and Megan Hilty's China Princess, was surprisingly touching, considering the fact that the song was, basically, a giant marshmallow serenading a broken piece of porcelain. I would buy this soundtrack if I could find it.
Now on downside, the film does show some cracks, (like China doll after her accident,) particularly the usual rookie first-time effort mistakes like pacing, transitions from scene to scene, and most noticeably, the ending. Ohhh, that ending... After Dorothy defeats the Jester, Glenda is freed and what she says is basically this: "Good job, Dorothy, now get out and go back home." This was incredibly rushed, and longed to see more time dedicated to showing Oz return to its former glory. Also, I did not buy into the evil investor guy paralleling the Jester in modern day Kansas. I almost wanted to see this character left out entirely, just to see Dorothy and her neighbors work together for a common purpose; this would make the song "Work With Me" all the more important and the pinnacle to the film's theme.
While "The Lego Movie" was the most visually appealing and funniest animated of 2014, "How to Train Your Dragon 2" was the most dramatic and blockbuster-y of 2014, I will always remember "Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return" as the most pleasant and, overall, enjoyable animated film of that year.
I do wish that Lion, Scarecrow and Nick had more screen time, and the ending was rather anticlimactic but it was still good.
Give it a chance, and don't let the AstroTurf fool you ;)