Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
100 Greatest Characters
Your all-time favourite heroes and villains
Subscribe To Empire
Sign up now and save 44%
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Fairuza Balk
Nicol Williamson
Jean Marsh
Piper Laurie.
Directors
Walter Murch.
Screenwriters
Gill Dennis
Walter Murch.
Running Time
113 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Vacation
2 Star Empire Rating
Strange Magic
2 Star Empire Rating
Looking For Love
3 Star Empire Rating
Pressure
3 Star Empire Rating
Misery Loves Comedy
3 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Man With A Movie Camera
5 Star Empire Rating
Salt Of The Earth, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Song Of The Sea
5 Star Empire Rating
Look Of Silence, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Mad Max: Fury Road
5 Star Empire Rating

Return To Oz


submit to reddit


Plot
With her guardians convinced she is mad, with all this talk of Oz, Dorothy is sent for some sinister psychiatric treatment, only to escape back to that fabled land. But Oz is in disarray, the Yellow Brock Road in ruins and the Emerland City in ruins, teaming up with a talking chicken, a wind-up man and a pumpkinhead, she must confront the wicked Nome King and the witch Mombi to save the land she loves.


Review

A long-distance sequel to the classic 1939 fantasy-musical, this evocative, well-mounted adventure ditches the songs, putting greater emphasises on the scarier elements of the Oz mythology created by L. Frank Baum, and hence cleaving closer to the books. Apart from names and character traits, there is nothing stylistically to attach the two films, Walter Murch (the famed editor of The Godfather) gives his film a harder, colder looking fantasy world — the film starts off with Dorothy (played much more as a child-figure by Fairuza Balk) escaping electro-shock therapy, not quite the fluff of her whirlwind departure back in ’39.
 
When we arrive in Oz, there is none of the Technicolor gleam, this is a devastated world: the Yellow Brick Road is all but destroyed, the Emerald City in ruins. Murch flips the game the original played, by having Kansas rich and colourful, and this dying Oz desaturated and wan. Things are bad.
 
Dorothy, clutching the talking chicken Belinna, meets up with a new set of companions on her quest to right Oz’s wrongs, after all The Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion have been inconveniently turned to stone. So we have Tik-Tok a wind-up man with onetime Blue Peter presenter Michael Sundin inside, Jack the Pumpkinhead, a lanky scarecrow-alike, to accompany her. Murch is also trusting to his special-effects to give him a more elaborate, dare-we-say realistic depiction of Oz, using a combination of puppetry, animatronics, and relatively ineffective claymation to bring to life the weird denizens, especially chief foe, the Nome King a kind of talking rock face. The other enemy is Mombi the witch, played with waspish cunning by Jean Marsh, who in one quite terrifying sequence proves to be able to possess interchangeable heads.
It’s enthralling as well as rambling, you do miss the songs, but there is clearly no place for them here. Best to see them as individual films with nothing in common apart from source material, one a classic, the other a strong enough picaresque amongst some decent fabulation.


Verdict
This is not so much a sequel but an homage and not a good one.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Return To Oz
Empire Star Rating

Decent if you forget the original (also, use your spellcheck Empire)

My reviews pretty much in the title. This is definitely a far cry from the original but can be an enjoyable film if you can detach from it. What I really wanted to point out (being a pedantic bastard) is this. "the Yellow Brock Road in ruins and the Emerland City in ruins" Really Empire? Come on! (PS I love you really) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by don_biancardi at 14:06, 11 June 2011 | Report This Post


Oz is not like the Oz you may remember.

Everyone whose anyone has seen the 1939 The Wizard of Oz musical which introduced colour to films. Magical, wonderful and upbeat, The Wizard of Oz is one of the classics. And if you think seeing its sort-of-sequel, Return to Oz, will be another delightful musical, you'd better think again. As Return to Oz is dark, depressing and downright scary. If you thought the Wicked Witch of the West and Flying Monkeys were frightening, you ain't seen nothing yet. Dorothy Gale is sent by Uncle Henry a... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Evilgidgit at 22:03, 09 November 2009 | Report This Post


scary as hell - for kids.

i remember thinking this was a horror film when i was a kid. watching it recently i can see why! - wheelers....nut-house....HEADLESS women that come to life for **** sake. PG u say? yeah right, ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by claudemg at 13:31, 22 August 2007 | Report This Post



CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Black Mass Trailer Breakdown With Director Scott Cooper
Find out what's what with Johnny Depp's take on Boston Gangster Whitey Bulger

The N.W.A-Team
Empire visits the set of Straight Outta Compton

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Read Empire's official verdict

Empire Meets Joely Richardson
On Maggie, Arnie and Event Horizon

100 Greatest Movie Characters
The complete list of your all-time favourite heroes and villains

Vote Now For Your Favourite TV Shows
Pick your top five - if you can...

Paul Rudd Is Awesome
Being awesome: from Clueless to Ant-Man

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month!

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 67%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)