Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return

Somewhere over the rainbow...is a better movie. Hopefully.

Somewhere over the rainbow…is a better movie. Hopefully.


Why do people keep taking over the blog on April Fools Day? It’s almost like I planned it as a joke or something! Well, at least it wasn’t Ryan this time. So what I have to review to-….oh no.

Hello, Spongey here.

Seeing as my…buddy just covered a crappy 2013 animated movie, I figured I’d punish myself my taking on a poorly reviewed animated film from last year. I’ve been looking forward to taking this on since the reviews came in.

Usually I’d give you a little history about the source material, but I don’t think you need it. Everyone is familiar with the Wizard of Oz, whether it be the classic 1939 film, or the original books by L Frank Baum. Regardless of who you are, you won’t need a film on History Lesson this time.

Naturally, they have been multiple attempts at translate these classic stories to other mediums. We’ve plenty of interesting versions in the world of TV and Movies, but a lot of them tend to either pool from the ’39 film or do something original.

Either you got Oz The Great and Powerful, which I haven’t seen, or Return to Oz…which I also haven’t seen. But I’m always open to new versions and in 2014 we got one that seemed kind of interesting.

It’s an animated version from a company called Summertime Entertainment. This is their first film which usually means it’s an interesting start or it will fare like Free Birds. The animation itself comes from a studio who has worked with other studios to produce fare such as Planes, the Tinkerbell movies, and Space Chimps 2.

So it’s obvious we’re dealing with DTV quality, but the former films have good animation so we’ll have to see on that front. This is based on Dorothy of Oz, written by L Frank Baum’s son.

Let me get this straight: You have a ton of classic and interesting books, chock full of awesome material to adept to film. And you picked…fanfiction? Cuz that’s what that book pretty much is.

I haven’t read it, it could be awesome. But a lot of people have been wanting the other books to be represented in film and picking that was not a good choice. If you recall, I said this movie had potential to be decent despite lackluster trailers.

Well, that went down the toilet once the film got pretty terrible reviews. Not only does it have a 16 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but a lot of reviews, most notably Ani- and Mr. Coat called it the worst animated film of the year.

Yes, people hated it more than The Nut Job. Given how I thought that one was just Meh, I fear for my sanity on this one. Plus, it bombed pretty hard at the Box Office.

On the production side of things, we got 2 writers and 2 directors. Between the writers, their credits include a couple Disney cartoon episodes, and some episode of Girl Meets World. That sounds…kind of promising. While one director has directed nothing theatrical, the other has directed Home on the Range!

…That’s not so promising.

\But hey, as always, we must keep an open mind. That usually doesn’t end well but if I’m negative all the time, this blog would be very boring.
So let’s take a little look and see if the world of Oz still has some magic left in it.

This, is Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return

The movie opens in the ever so Iconic Emerald city, as we are reintroduced to our old friends, the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and Tin Man. They are voiced by Dan Acykrod, Jim Belushi, and Kelsey Grammer. It’s worth nothing that Kelsey won a Razzie for this role.

Yes, it was lumped in with his other bad 2014 roles (mostly Bayformers 4) but still, this was the first animated film to win a Razzie since Thumbelina. Ouch.

They are in major danger and want to contact Dorothy. Conveniently, time moves differently in Oz so while it’s been years to them, it will be only be a day to them. Oh, and it looks it wasn’t a dream in this version, okay then.

They use some weird machine to call her and we cut to her waking up in Kansas. She’s voiced by Lea Michelle who I know is a person people know about. She walks outside only to find that her Aunt and Uncle want to sell the house since it got pretty ravaged by that tornado.

Then some dude (in) conveniently shows up, claiming to be an Appraiser, wanting to to condemn the farmhouse. It’s nice to know this crap is happening right before we can get to know anyone. Yeah, most people are familiar with the story, but a recap for the little kids who may not have seen it would be nice.

He leaves and Dorothy isn’t exactly up for leaving. Her Aunt and Uncle are on his side. She walks away and tries to see if she can fix a few things. This leads to a song. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that this is a musical. 2014 sure has a lot of musicals, didn’t it? From the one awesome song in The Lego Movie, to Into the Woods, to this, to that one human pony movie that I’ve never talked about.

How is this first song? It’s… generic. It’s typical I Want Song and it’s not all that memorable. It’s kind of pleasant and they try to make very sweet but it’s kind of…eh. Tolerable, but not their best foot forward.

After the song, a Rainbow shows up and grabs her. Yes, it grabs her and takes her on a weird colorful trip. Turns out, this is the message they sent. The machine is a rainbow mover that sends her back to Oz. Eh, I can forgive going a bit too fast now as long as the rest is good.

By the way, Tin Man is annoyingly emotional now that he has a heart. Yay. Their message is interrupted by the bad guys breaking into the room. Turns out these bad guys are the flying monkeys, and Dorothy lands in the familiar land of Oz.

We cut to Glinda the Good Witch as she has been captured and taken to our villain, The Jester, voiced by Martin Short. She can’t take him seriously to how weird he is, and explains that he has a curse that prevents him from taking the costume off. His sister did it to him. Yeah, it’s done through weak exposition but I expected that.

Apparently The Jester took over and Oz is in ruins. It would nice to find out more instead of just being told that this is the case, but eh it’s a small thing. He reveals that he used a magic broomstick with a crystal ball on it to turn people into puppets. By the way, Martin Short brought his Santa Clause 3 performance to the table. That’s…a mixed thing.

He turns her into a puppet and she’s kind of creepy. A couple reviewers have made jokes about how creepy she is but…she’s not that creepy. She’s about as creepy as she should be, really.

Also, it is bugged me all that this crap with the villain is dumped on his instead of letting it flow naturally. Maybe putting us straight into the adventure without much build up was not the best idea.

He uses his big crystal ball to see where Dorothy is, and reacts by screaming as loud as he can. He laughs when he sees that the big witch slayer is just a little girl. Hah, its funny cuz she’s gonna stop him later.

He sends a flying monkey after our heroes, and he will take care of the girl himself. Speaking of which, we cut back to her as she bumps into a new character. This is Wiser the owl, who is fat and supposedly smart. He’s kind of annoying with his babbling. It’s hard to explain but trust me on this.
“I must warn you, I also talk incessantly.”

…You win this round.

She asks him to lead the way to the Emerald City which means we are stuck with him on this road trip. First, they enter a discount version of the Candy Kingdom, and start to ear everything…because the signs said.

As you all expect, this comes with a rock song by about eating Candy. …Wait, what? Is this Phineas and Ferb all of a sudden? The Jester sings this as he’s watching them for whatever reason. It’s better than the first song but it’s weird and dumb.

After the song, they are arrested by the Candy people. Most notably, Marshall Mellow. Haw. Turns out the signs saying eating was okay was placed by our villain. Wait, they say the owl has been arrested for this before, which means he knows the rule…yet hr didn’t point out how odd it was that the signs were changed?!

Bah.

After a detour with the other Oz heroes, Dorothy and Wiser are taken to the Candy Courthouse where they are judged by a jury of their…peeps. Sigh.

They are proved guilty and are sentenced to death. …Ouch. But once they hear that this is the famous Dorothy, they let her off the hook. Yes, being a hero excuses her from breaking your most sacred rule. Fine. Wait, how did they not know what the most famous hero in Oz looks like?

By the way, Jude Jawbreaker here (sigh) is voiced by BRIAN BLESSED. You know, the other bad guy in Freddie as FR07.

Never mind, this movie is amazing. With that settled they let Mellow join their party since he is looking for a Candy general that got lost In Emerald City. Hmm, this sounds like that other movie where stops on the way to the goal gets them new members of their group…can’t place the name though…

Their next stop is the China Country, where they bump into the wall of China. Ugh, so many terrible puns. They ask to see the China Princess so they can get through the place, but she’s busy waiting for suitors. Thus, they say that Marshall Mellow is a suitor. Oh joy.

They head in and see her dealing with suitors…via song. Yay. At least this one moves the plot in some way. It’s…meh. As memorable as the others but I think they almost tried with this one, plus Megan Hilty can sing.

The most memorable aspect is that two of the suitors are voiced by Richard Hortiz and Tom Kenny. Sigh, another blemish on her resume. At one point, she sings so high the china suitors actually crack and fall apart.

….They are fine despite their pieces being all over the places but what the hell?!! She blows them up for the horrible crime of…having cracks?!There’s being shallow, and there’s being horrible!

Mellow goes up and wows her with his singing voice. But then a random earthquake appears and they all flee the city. The city is really damaged and Dorothy asks to walk through the country on the yellow brick road.

Uh…her country just kind of got cracked. Show some respect!

She brings up the whole “I’m Dorothy” excuse which changes her mind a bit. That’s twice now she is excused despite the situation. Weird. Despite that, she blames Dorothy and says she did all this somehow.

“You’re just a little girl, what can you do?”

…Kill a witch. She’s kind of famous for that.

Then she just kind of…looks at the ruined city and decides she is right, and she will go with Dorothy. Random change of heart is random. Also, you gotta love that she was worried that her people got cracked a bit here but she has no problems with SHATTERING SEVERAL PEOPLE.

Back with the Jester, our Oz Heroes have been captured and he shows them the creepy puppets he has made, such as Glinda. And of course, he sings about it. Yay, villain song!

It’s…alright. It’s the most pleasing song in the film so far, but it’s still fairly average. Martin Short is having fun but it’s just a generic villain song. That’s it. Not too disappointing compared to something like Sealed with a Kiss, but still a bit average.

In the song, he reveals his backstory. His sister was the Wicked Witch and she pushed him around and he got super jealous. Now that she’s dead, he took her broomstick and took over.

We’ll see how they follow up on this but for there one issue right away: Where the hell was he in the original?! This claims to be a sequel to the famous movie, so where was he? They don’t say he was anywhere else, so for all we know he, for some reason, didn’t partake in any of her plan or peek in. If they said he ran away then came back when he heard of her death, that would he fine

But they say no such thing and leave it too vague. They botched up the most basic thing! Ugh. Oh, and there’s also the matter how him being doing due to being angry he got cursed by his sister…and now that he has the broom that did it, he doesn’t try to undo the curse. Whatever.

Our main team bumps into an end to the yellow brick road, as a part that went over a river is missing. Which means they gotta build a boat. Dorothy starts by pulling a tree’s branch.

Of course, the tree objects. Wait, she knows some trees are alive, and given what happened last time, why did she think that was a good idea?! She’s lucky they weren’t Evil Dead trees.

“Isn’t she the one that stole the apples off uncle Manny?”

…Really?

Thankfully, one tree is so old, he’s willingly to sacrifice some of him. He is Tugg, voiced by Patrick Stewart. More talent wasted by the almighty paycheck.

So they get to using his wood to build a boat…set to a song. Seriously, this needs a pointless background song? Yes, it’s generic and not memorable. You catching on yet?

After turning Patrick Stewart into a boat, they head out. They arrive at the Emerald City only to find it abandoned. They fool around a bit before The Jester contacts them and basically them he has her friends and gloats about it.

He sics the monkeys after them and they run away, quickly boarding Picard and escape. Ah, that was the cliché meeting with the villain before they move on to get to the final battle. …Which I think was also in that movie the general formula reminds me of…It’s on the top of my head, I know it!

They head into some caves where they relax a bit. But The Jester’s float pops up and sends them though a fork in the cave which leads them off a waterfall. Insert Emperor’s New Grove joke here.

They crash safely until they see that the crash broke and killed China Princesses. This would shocking and needlessly dark…if we didn’t see those suitors clearly surviving from this kind of thing earlier.

Shock moment FAIL.

Even if that bit wasn’t there to contradict this, we mostly saw her as bitch and we never got to see her as a likable character, so this would fail either way!

To their credit, she stays dead for the time being and her death even leads to Dorothy wanting to go to Jester’s place alone. But for that reason, the death itself feels poorly done.

The owl flies off to get help, so the Mellow guy stays behind to sing about his love for the china girl. Oh, they had a romance. I didn’t mention cuz it just amounted to them giggle at each other in a couple action bits. That’s it.

I have no idea why he even likes her beyond looks. It’s so forced and the fact that they expect us to take it seriously while they sing about love. Come on, no matter how fantastical your story is, if you have a big moment like this, making us care about the characters in so
me way is a major requirement.

And of course, he’s able to fix her and they finish their song. Yep, they could have just fixed her easily this whole time. Okay to be fair, even if they did this, Dorothy may still quit due to a fear of hurting other people like this.

Still doesn’t excuse the love story failing on every level. Oh, and the song is lame, if you wanna know. Back with Dorothy, she reaches the Jester’s castle and heads in, only to bump into Puppet Glinda. She’s…kind of creepy here, but I still don’t see why Ani-Mat pissed his pants of it. The Jester pops up in his best Joker makeup along with her captured friends. He brags up how he has the witch’s broomstick.

“I gave that to the Wizard, for the protection of Oz”

…Hey, where is that guy anyway?

She fiddles with some stuff, and a curtain falls on him, then her friends are saved. I’d say that’s anti climatic but he pops back up as one of the monkeys takes his broomstick crystal ball thing.

This leads to a chase which ends with Dorothy almost falling to her doom. But of course she’s saved by the owl. Then her other friends barrage in to help, including Tugg, who is now a tank.

…Okay then.

The Crystal ends up jumping around the castle like a rube Goldberg machine. Holy crap, something that’s almost fun and imaginative? Get it away!

Actually, this whole battle with the other flying monkeys is the closest to a fun scene in the movie. It’s nothing big but it’s close to being what I wanted. If I actually gave a single fuck about the characters, we would have something!

The Jester gets sick of this and once he gets the ball back, he summons a twister to kill Dorothy. Hardy har har. She keeps going and eventually starts fighting with The Jester over his weapon.

Dorothy gets it and after a “Badass” line, she breaks the crystal ball, saving all the puppet people. Then Jester throws himself into the Twister and vanishes. That was either weird suicide or a poor sequel hook.

Either way, it’s weird how a movie like this would have something resembling a nice drawn out climax, even if it ended up being slightly anti climatic…and generic.

Glinda returns to normal and thanks everyone for stopping The Jester. Dorothy just says she wants to go home and they say their goodbyes. No checking to if everyone in Oz is okay or anything like that, she just wants to leave her new and old friends with a quick goodbye. Whatever.

We get a quick goodbye scene that reminds me of some other movie, and the only one she hugs is the owl guy…she barely knew, even more so than the others. And I thought she was being dumb when she said she’d miss one certain person more than the others in the original!

Then Glinda just sends her home. Well, that was rushed. Dorothy wakes up back home just in time for her and her family to leave forever. Oh yeah, there was that plot point. Dorothy talks to the appraiser guy, and I should mention that this place looks pretty modern for a story that takes place in Sepia tone times.

“There are our homes, and nobody has the right to take them away from us”

…Except him, cuz this is his job.

He brings that up and shows a document saying he can do this, and she takes it to show everyone. Nice going, dumbass.

They look at his Wallet and find out he has just a fake all long, pretending to be an appraiser guy …And no thought to do any kind of background check before now?!

Everyone’s house is safe, and it’s all happy rainbows. Roll credits. After what I say through, I’m not shocked the ending was pretty weak despite an okay climax. I ain’t even mad.

…But seriously, where was the Wizard?

Final Thoughts:

Yep, that was bad. It wasn’t exactly horrible, nor was it as annoying as something like Hoodwinked 2 or Walking with Dinosaurs, but it still commits plenty of sins. And lacking a lapdance is the least of them.

I’ll touch on the animation first, as the budget restriction of the film can forgive this problem. Also, apparently the producers were involved in shady and immoral business participles which Wikipedia failed to mention hence why this was stuck in here instead of the intro.

( http://www.thewrap.com/legends-of-oz-box-office-flop-investors/ )

The animation is fairly cheap, but nothing terrible. The character animation is flat and fairly stiff. To their credits, the background and effects can be nice but are still weak when compared to other films. It’s nothing terrible but very little of it is impressive. Given the budget and background, I can forgive this.

I can’t forgive the rest, though. The biggest problem of the film, where the other issues stem from, is that it is really generic. Usually, I can forgive this since those kind of movies escape my wrath.

But leave it to this movie to make its generic-ness bug me. The main reason is that this is an Oz movie. It should be wildly colorful, imaginative with a great sense of fun. Instead this movie is super generic with from its songs, characters, and especially the story.

Instead of an actually attempt to bring Oz to the big screen, it’s just a giant cash grab where every element is there just because it’s supposed to be, instead of actually having a point. As a result, it lacks a sense of wonder or creativity.

I don’t know that bugs me, but it does. Even with the cool battle scene, and a few locations, it’s very light on creativity, all the way through. The story is pretty much the original movie, which would be fine if the script filled it with any imagination at all.

Seriously, they rip off the basic formula to a tee and misses the point of it. I didn’t’ feel any weight was given to make it charming and fun. As far as creativity, they fail to put in any of that.

There a couple things like some locations but they are either used for bad jokes or simply glossed over. It feels like a typical fantasy story that could take place in any world, really.

And that’s not even going into continuity issues with the original film it’s supposed to be a sequel to. And what was the point of that appraiser subplot?

The songs are pretty weak. They are…kind of tolerable but they are mostly generic and forgettable. We have the love song, the I want song, the villain song and more. That’s all they are and they exist just cuz they needed a song for that. Some are a bit catchy like the villain song but most of them are just…there.

But that’s nothing compared to the characters. Now, I’m not going to pretend the characters in the original were amazing, but they were good. They each had goals that told us a lot about their character, and they did a good job at giving them weight so we can care about them.

Can’t say the same for this. Dorothy is too much of a blank slate, The owl is just an annoying owl, Marshall Mellow has a romance, and the princess is just a bitch who murders people for no reason.

They kind of have goals but they are very weak and they do not have any weight to them. They add nothing to the film except just…people who help Dorothy. Marshall is the worst in the generic category, as the only thing he has is a crappy undeveloped romance that vanishes after a song.

The Princesses is just flat out unlikable, especially after …that scene. Seriously, she doesn’t even learn not to be a bitch, she just falls in love and shuts up. They do very little in the end and we are given nothing to care about, and that’s without comparing them to the original cast.

Speaking of which, the original characters are shafted. Scarecrow, Lion and Tin-Man are flanderized and given nothing to do, and Glinda exists to give pussies nightmares. Then there’s the Villain, who is the best character with an okay backstory, but they never follow up on it and he ends up being a generic villain.

The voice acting is average. Only Martin Short really seems to be having fun while the others simply read their lines. Some of them are good choices, but they get nothing to do. Also, Lea is sadly not a good choice for a 10- year old girl.

Oh, and some of the characters are kind of annoying.

This movie may not be as baffling as some other films, but it got on my nerves by sucking all the creativity and fun out of something that is nothing but creativity and fun. Not to mention various plot holes and logic problems.

It’s just bad. It’s just another cash cow that cares more about putting in tired elements to fill 84 minutes, instead of actually trying to capture the magic of Oz. If this was direct to video, I could forgive since I expect all that going on. But in theaters, that is not the case.

The credits are full are very talented artists, including the directors, so how they ended up wasting their skills on such a dull movie is mind boggling.

I’ve seen much worse but this is still way worse than it should be. Even I don’t know why it on my nerves, but it did. It lacks any creativity at all with a dull story that rips the original, weak songs, average animation, and a cruddy cast of characters. The fact that it butchers a classic film is just adding salt to the wound.

It’s easily the worst animated film of 2014, mostly cuz it’s the only one I thought was bad. But then again, I haven’t’ seen Planes 2 yet.

Grade: D

Next time, we’re heading back to a world you are dread: The world of Happy Maddison.

See ya.

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About Spongey444

I'm 20 and I'm a slightly below average man who can barely spell. I mostly spend my time watching TV and movies, hence why i ended doing a blog all about those things. I tend to have weird tastes, but I like think I'm just fair on things.
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