Recently, I have allowed myself to revisit the Wizard of Oz in many forms, as in the original 1939 film, a SyFy channel re-imagining, and the Broadway smash musical Wicked. I wish to review each, and will do so in order that I watched them to indicate how my viewing of the subsequent pictures was affected.
Tin Man (2007)
Director: Nick Willing
Cast: Zooey Deschanel, Alan Cumming, Neal McDonough, Richard Dreyfuss, Raoul Trujillo, Callum Keith Rennie, Kathleen Robertson
Synopsis: A SyFy channel re-imagining of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. It is a three episode mini-series which is familiar while completely changing everything you ever thought you knew about Oz.
A review by Film Nerd
This is a very niche place to start this review, but it is where I started, impelled by much general Zooey Deschanel love. It took me some time to find this DVD before having success at JB HiFi, at the not so pricey sum of $10 too!! And it was well worth the effort.
To give away too many details of the plot would be criminal, as part of the joy of this mini-series is in discovering exactly how they have updated the narrative. In brief, however, Deschanel plays this version’s Dorothy, here called D.G. She is a young lady in search of a new direction in life, bored with being a waitress in a small town. Each night she dreams of another world, almost another life entirely. Then comes the tornado (here with an explanation for the storm given), transporting here to the Outer Zone, or the O.Z. In her travels in this land she meets many enemies of the evil Azkadelia, whom rules the O.Z. in a reign of tyranny. She first meets Glitch (Cumming), whom has had half his brain removed, as denoted by the zipper across his head. She later meets an animalistic seer named Raw whom has no courage (Trujillo). In between these however, she meets Wyatt Cain (McDonough). He was a former police officer of the O.Z., which is colloquially known as a “Tin Man”. He has been tortured in a cage for years, repeatedly being shown the abduction of his family, leaving him a shell of a man with little other thought than revenge.
All I can say is if you can find this to view it, it is an absolute MUST. Initially, you nod knowingly at the parallels to the original story, and yet at some point it seems to diverge into a completely new and fresh story. There is as a result no real feeling of having seen this before, rather it draws us in with new ideas, depth, and intrigue. I sat down to watch the first episode only initially, and then found myself at the end credits of the third and final instalment in the same sitting simply because I had no choice, I had to see what happens next.
There are a number of stand out performances. The Cowardly Lion doesn’t get a lot of room to breathe, but Trujillo makes good headway with an anguished beast. Rennie and Robertson both have the roles of villains, and give them just the right flavour to antagonise our heroes. Dreyfuss brings some star power as the Mystic Man, and left me wondering why he is not doing as many big budget roles these days, as the talent is still there. Cumming’s role is more essential than previous Scarecrow portrayals, and once again he is such a chameleon as he has been in X-Men 2 and Goldeneye, just disappearing into his role. And I am still to see him in a role with his native Scottish accent! The series belongs to two actors though. Deschanel brings a feistiness to D.G. making here a heroine who you get behind with delight. But even more than this, McDonough owns his title role. Tortured nobility is great to watch when played right, and it is in the subtleties of this performance that truly had me glued.
My only complaint is the special effects. This is where Tin Man shows its made for TV origins, and when you have a lot of TV these days with effects that are just as high quality as movies, this is a disappointment and it did take me out of the world that had been created here at times. This is the main are that lost points on my rating here. Thankfully though, the story is enough to avoid this ruining an otherwise entertaining premise.
See this! See this! See this!
4 stars (of a possible 5)