Legends Of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (2014)

Legends Of OzA dark power is once again brewing in the Emerald City, and, in desperation Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer) and the Cowardly Lion (Jim Belushi) use a rainbow emitter device to bring Dorothy Gale (Lea Michele) back to Oz. From her perspective, however, it has been mere hours since she was last there, and has only just started to survey the damage to her family home after the hurricane hit. Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion are captured before she can complete the journey, and Dorothy must find new friends if she is to stop The Jester (Martin Short) — who has turned Glinda the Good Witch (Bernadette Peters) into a marionette using his late sister’s broomstick — and save the day. Together with Wiser the Owl (Oliver Platt), Marshall Mellow (Hugh Dancy) and China Princess (Megan Milty) she sets off once more along the Yellow Brick Road.

While X-Men: Days Of Future Past ambitions to unite each previous movie in the series, Will Finn and Dan St Pierre’s Legends Of Oz: Dorothy’s Return marks the third spin-off from The Wizard Of Oz to completely ignore all which came before. There has of course already been a sequel to the film, Disney’s live-action Return To Oz, and a prequel, last year’s Oz the Great and Powerful. Legends Of Oz: Dorothy’s Return isn’t even the first animated sequel, with the only truly official continuation — Journey Back To Oz — released way back in 1974. What the impetus might have been for this latest adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s series it is difficult to say, as the film adds nothing to the original save for a talking tugboat and a marshmallow man.

Glee‘s Lea Michelle makes for a completely forgettable Dorothy Gale, her voice notably lacking in Judy Garland’s breathless wonderment and her admittedly impressive vocal range wasted on a series of increasingly grating songs. Elsewhere the voice actors make more of an impression, but Aykroyd, Grammar and Belushi are ultimately sidelined to make more room for the newer characters. Patrick Stewart elevates the material whenever he is on screen, though his efforts are rather undermined by the fact he’s been incongruously cast as a tree which sacrifices its branches to become a boat. Of the characters, it’s Martin Short’s Jester who comes closest to justifying the film; he’s no wicked witch, though he has inherited her broomstick, but I for one have always had something of a soft spot for a hapless villain failing at every turn.

The only reason you might take a chance on Legends Of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is if the only animated alternative is Postman Pat: The Movie — say you’re taking advantage of the midweek discounts and therefore unable to opt for that weekend’s matinee. Dorothy’s Return is indeed superior to Postman Pat — the animation’s more robust, the film is not completely devoid of humour and Simon Cowbell is nowhere to be seen — but it still leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn’t help that The Wizard Of Oz itself is scheduled for an IMAX 3D rerelease later this year, giving audiences the opportunity to be charmed anew by the original film. Why spend money on this pale imitation (a 2D film in the age of 3D) when you can wait and enjoy the classic that started it all?

Legends Of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is competent enough. It’s reasonably well-paced and there are undoubtedly some laughs to be had in the case of younger children. That said, in the wake of Frozen and released in the months before How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6 the film just isn’t good enough to tempt children to the cinema, and simply isn’t aimed at adult fans of the original looking for a reason to take Dorothy’s heed and return to Oz.

2-stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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