Dorothy and the Witches of Oz – Movie Review

Dorothy and the Witches of Oz is simply a fun time at the movies. It manages to capture what an epic film of its scope should – pure entertainment from start to finish.

Fun for the whole family and with a perfect blend of fantasy and comedy, Dorothy and the Witches of Oz reminds of some of the classic family films – such as The NeverEnding Story, The Dark Crystal, Willow and of course The Wizard of Oz.

Inspired by the writings of L. Frank Baum, the film was written and directed by Leigh Scott and stars Christopher Lloyd, Lance Henriksen, Billy Boyd, Paulie Rojas, Eliza Swenson, Barry Ratcliffe, Sasha Jackson, Mia Sara, Jeffery Combs, Ethan Embry, Sean Astin and Noel Thurman.

The film opens on the colorful world of Oz where a young Dorothy and her house from Kansas land on The Wicked Witch of the East (Sarah Lieving) and meet Glinda (the beautiful Thurman), one of the good witches, and The Wizard of Oz (Lloyd, is there anyone else could play the Wizard?). It then jumps to the Emerald City under siege by the Wicked Witch of the West (Swenson).

The Wicked Witch wants a magical book that has a spell that would give her to power to create the world as she saw fit, and the Wizard sees little choice but to give it to her or see his city destroyed. The Wizard gives her the book and pinky promises never to take it back if she pinky promises never to attack the city again.

Glenda objects, but the Wizard has a trick up his sleeve because he has put a magical lock on the book to keep the witch from opening it. He hid the key with Dorothy – who then quickly returns to the real world.

From there, the film introduces the audience to Dorothy Gale (Rojas) – a successful children’s author who writes adventures stories about an 11-year-old Dorothy in Oz. Dorothy is from Kansas, but now lives in New York. She is also in the process of seeing her books turned into a movie with the help of her agents Billie Westbrook (Swenson) and Bryan (a great Ratcliffe).

Along with her artist Allen (Ari Zagaris), Dorothy isn’t completely convinced the movie adaptation is the best idea (they want little Dorothy sporting leather pants and a leather jacket).

Billie also pushes adult Dorothy to sex up her own image and to pick up possible love interest Nick Chopper (Boyd) in a bar. Dorothy does her best, but is blown off by Nick – only to be saved by him when she is mugged going home.

It doesn’t take long for Dorothy to discover there is more to the movie deal and the stories she writes as she is visited by Princess Langwidere (Mia Sara, who has trouble keeping her head) and Frick (Embry) and Frack (Astin).

A letter from her Uncle Henry (Henriksen) helps Dorothy realize her own ties to Oz, her parents and that the Wicked Witch of the West is in the real world to get the key.

With the Wicked Witch and her motives revealed, the film delivers a lot of information quickly, but it doesn’t feel like information overload thanks to the great chemistry of the cast, the fast and funny dialogue, and the laughs brought by Astin and Embry.

Frick and Frack don’t have a “big” part in the movie, but they are hilarious if you listen to their quick jabs. Boyd also brings a clever wit to the role and you have to love his interactions with fellow former Hobbit Astin.

Once all the players are revealed, the movies starts moving at a really fast pace as Dorothy and company try to keep the key out of the Wicked Witch of the West’s hands and have to deal with the dark creatures of Oz being brought into the real world – flying monkeys swarming around New York City!

Dorothy and the Witches of Oz has a lot of things going for it that make it an entertaining movie from start to finish and help it overcome a couple of minor flaws.

The colors that Scott and company use in the film are amazing and really help the world of Oz pop. This feels like a fantasy movie from the very start. The colors of Oz and for the magic of the witches will catch the eye and help transport the audience into that fantasy world.

Rojas, Ratcliffe, Boyd, and Zagaris are great as our heroes, and Rojas does a beautiful job as the wide-eyed Dorothy – who is discovering the truth about Oz with the audience.

The actress is syrupy sweet and nice – even when the witch is getting ready to blast her. Ratcliffe delivers a ton of laughs especially towards the end of the film when he figures out his role in the story and gets his courage (trying to stay as spoiler free as possible).

Dorothy and the Witches of Oz is now in limited release in select cities. Visit the movie database for more information.

Swenson owns The Wicked Witch of the West and is just mean. The character sports a terrific make-up job that makes her look instantly evil, but Swenson is equally wicked without the make-up with a drop dead glance or glare.

Watching the film with my wife, she kept commenting how evil the actress is – even when not decked out in her witch clothing. She is the perfect foil for the overly nice Dorothy, and you have to love some of the wicked things she does.

A film like this needs a great villain and Swenson carries the role to perfection. The actress also pulls double duty by providing the film with a thrilling musical score that matches the film’s epic scope.

I also enjoyed the way Scott and company blended the magical world of Oz with a nuts and bolts techno feel. The Tin Man design is incredible (and made me wish the character could have been in the film more), and I enjoyed how the witches didn’t use traditional brooms and wands with their magic – such as The Wicked Witch of the West using a magical umbrella to cast her spells and fly around (like an evil Mary Poppins).

Scott peppered the film with nods to other movies that helped influence this type of genre. The opening of the film feels very much like The Wizard of Oz, and there are plenty of other moments where you will get a chuckle if you pick up on the reference (such as a taxi driver being referred to as Short Round from the Indiana Jones films or a mention about Planet of the Apes as the flying monkey attack New York City).

The movie does have some problems. It takes a bit to get into the story and to fully understand what the plot is going to be. This is mostly because of a bit of choppy editing at the beginning that makes it a little hard to follow.

It features a massive final showdown between our heroes and the darker forces of Oz. While the showdown has the epic scope that the film’s story deserved, it gets a little too big.

Characters are thrown into the mix (such as the Gnome King or the Tin Man), but it isn’t clear right away who they are or why they are even there. The problems by no means ruin the film, but might take you out of the fantasy world of Dorothy and the Witches of Oz a bit.

Dorothy and the Witches of Oz is a fun film that the entire family can enjoy together. From start to finish it provides plenty of action, magic and lots of laughs. Hopefully this won’t be the only trip to Oz we get to take.

Dorothy and the Witches of Oz is now in limited release in select cities. Visit the movie database for more information.