I can’t claim that I’ve read every single OZ book like our friend Pax at Cavalcade of Awesome, but I’ve been a huge fan of the OZ films since I was a little kid. The Wizard of OZ and Return to OZ have always been a couple of my favorite films of all time. I was also fortunate enough to see Return to OZ at Radio City Music Hall when it first came out for a Disney Summer Magic Spectacular which was an incredible day at Radio City in New York. So, I was pumped when I heard a prequel was coming out. I fought the wintry weather in Jersey and headed to theater with great anticipation.
I was looking forward to seeing if this talented cast could pull of some magic of their own. They did indeed. With the directorial efforts of Sam Raimi, they did what I never thought was possible by bringing an awesome OZ film to the big screen.The key aspect that was a major element for me is if they could make me feel like I was watching a movie that was presented on a grand scale. During the film I was truly sucked into the world of OZ, albeit one that was fully fleshed out with CGI and not made up of painted backdrops. The effects were fantastic and they weren’t overdone to the point where everything looked fake. There was fantasy, scares, and a lot of jokes. There was also many nods to the original film, most importantly for me was to see how the movie would transition from B&W to color. They didn’t go for the sepia tone that is used early on in The Wizard of Oz, but the B&W contrasted even better with the vibrant world of OZ.
The cast was strong and each actor brought an authentic performance. *Spoiler* I wanted to love Mila Kunis in the role of the Wicked Witch, but I had a hard time buying her as a demonic looking evil witch since we are used to seeing her as a sweetheart as in movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and even when she’s a materialistic airhead like Jackie in That ’70s Show. I felt like her role would’ve had more impact if she didn’t look like a demon. Apparently, from what I’ve read, they weren’t allowed to use the specific green color makeup used on Margaret Hamilton, but if Kunis’ makeup was a little more natural looking, it may have worked better, but I’m still satisfied with the result. Also, I’m not sure if Kunis recorded the Witch’s cackle or not, but it was pretty dead on.
Aside from the standout performances by James Franco as Oz himself and Michelle Williams as Glinda, the highlights of the film is the Garden Stater Zach Braff as Frank and OZ’s sidekick Finley the flying monkey and Joey King as China Girl. Also mentioned prominently is that OTHER Wizard who Oz admired…”The Wizard of Menlo Park, NJ,” Thomas Edison! New Jersey was represented well in this film and that was genuinely cool since I didn’t expect there to be any NJ love coming from the magical land of OZ. Even better news is that thanks to a strong opening weekend, supposedly a sequel is already being formulated at Disney.
Marvel Alliance Action Figures
In past installments of this sporadic column, I’ve warned myself not to get into collecting another series of collectibles, but in this case I was powerless. Many of you know me as a DC guy, but I’m not against Marvel in any way. As a kid I was a huge fan of the Secret Wars figure line. Come to think of it, I always use Secret Wars, Star Wars, and Super Powers as the measuring stick for all other action figures.
I haven’t been collecting toys and figures as much as I used to since it’s all getting too expensive. But on a recent trip to Target for my niece’s birthday I ran into a sweet Punisher figure from the Marvel Alliance series. Also, for my birthday Miss Sexy Armpit got me Black Widow and Ghost Rider from this line.
These 3.75 inch figures are way overpriced at around $9.99, but the whole series is sculpted with much detail and they are meticulously painted, so they didn’t give me much of choice. We’ve come a long way from the Secret Wars line in terms of detail, but there was a sleekness and simplicity in those Mattel figures. Considering the size of these it feels like they were reaching out to me telepathically claiming “We’re the modern day equivalent to Secret Wars…COME PLAY WITH US!”
Cracker Jack’d “Snacks With Impact”
Has anyone ever told you that you have a serious impulse control problem? Why yes Riddler, I’ve been told that many times. In fact, I told myself that at Hess Express on Saturday when I bought two bags of new Cracker Jack’d snacks. I must say, the branding is what made me curious enough to take the shot at buying them. If I didn’t have fond memories as a kid of eating Cracker Jacks that my Dad bought me I don’t think I would’ve give these new Jacks a second thought.
After tearing into the Chocolate Mocha bites first, I really enjoyed the flavor. These are little chocolate covered nuggets of what almost has the interior texture of chocolate crunchies from an ice cream cake or some wafer-like cookie, but with a flavor of strong coffee, like an espresso. These little bites also contain real coffee beans and are caffeinated. The problem with them is that due to the chocolate they are pretty high in fat. If you don’t care about that then I recommend these because they are tasty. I actually did feel the effects from the caffeine whereas a few other reviewers around the Internet claimed they didn’t get even a minor caffeine buzz. There’s also a vanilla mocha flavor which I didn’t see at the store or else I would’ve picked it up.
As for the other bag, the Spicy Pizzeria flavor (Intense Mix) were pretty mundane. There’s a bunch of pretzel type bits in the bag along with a bunch of other random and nondescript pieces of other snacks or nuts dusted with Pizza flavoring. The flavoring is questionable. It’s definitely not reminiscent of pizza flavoring from Combos or Keebler Pizzarias unfortunately. Pass on this one.
Doritos Jacked Ranch Dipped Hot Wings
Skip these. Just skip them as furiously as possible. If I had the time traveling means of Bill & Ted I would’ve had my past self to visit me in the present day at the local Target to warn me NOT to buy these silly things. They “Jacked” Doritos are masquerading as real Doritos when in fact they are a completely different and extremely less enjoyable tortilla chip. The flavor varieties are great, but they don’t pull them off well. I didn’t find the ranch dipped hot wings to taste authentic at all. The hot wings OR ranch flavor didn’t really hit me. As I stated in my last post about these, they are too large. I always find myself having to break them into pieces to actually eat them. In addition, they are too hard and too crunchy. If you’re the type of person who loves snacks that have the potential to break your teeth, then get these, but they should not exist as Doritos. You can never go wrong with the regular line of Doritos. The Jacked should cease to exist.