Nathan (vovat) wrote,
Nathan
vovat

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Tin Type

I finally watched Tin Man, last year's Sci-Fi channel miniseries loosely based on The Wizard of Oz. therealtavie had warned me that it wasn't very good, and...well, it really wasn't, but I thought I should see it anyway. It stars Zooey Deschanel (presumably chosen on the basis of the first two letters of her name being "Oz" spelled backwards; her first name can also be rearranged to spell "oyez," but with an E left over) as D.G. Seriously, that's all anyone ever calls her; I guess her parents forgot to make her initials stand for something. Actually, there's a hint late in the final part that she might share a name with her ancestor Dorothy Gale (yeah, Dorothy apparently had children and died, unlike in the books), but it's not entirely clear. She turns out to be a Princess of the Outer Zone (or "O.Z."), and armed soldiers try to stop her from gaining her birthright. Now, where have I seen THAT before? Oh, right. In the 1925 silent film version of Wizard. Thanks for reminding me of THAT train wreck! Anyway, after escaping from the soldiers and the Munchkins (who, in this version of Oz, are suspicious little guys in body paint who live in treehouses presumably stolen from the Ewoks), she starts her journey to the Central City with the local equivalents of the Big Three. The Scarecrow is a former adviser to the Queen whose brain was removed (well, half of it, anyway), the Tin Man an ex-cop who threatens people with his gun to get out of pretty much any possible situation, and the Lion a psychic healer with a rubber-banded beard (I suppose he must have taken fashion tips from Captain Lou Albano). In the city, they seek out the Mystic Man, played by Richard Dreyfuss, to tell him how much Mr. Holland's Opus sucked. No, that's probably what they SHOULD have done, but they actually end up being sent on a mission to find D.G.'s parents and the Emerald of the Eclipse, which the Wicked Witch wants to block out the O.Z.'s two suns. Unlike Mr. Burns, she doesn't appear to have any real motivation for this, other than just being nasty. As it turns out, the Witch Azkadellia is D.G.'s sister, who was possessed by the spirit of an ancient witch, and cursed with the inability to deliver her lines convincingly. The winged monkeys are tattoos on her breasts that come to life when she wants them to. D.G.'s search leads to a shape-shifter playing the role of Toto, and to her father Ahamo (I wonder if "Tunrettub" was their second choice), who arrived in the O.Z. from Nebraska in a hot-air balloon. Wait, I thought Dreyfuss' character was the Wizard. Oh, well. It's probably not too important by this point. D.G. stops Azkadellia by reaching her human side. I've seen that trope a bunch of times, but it rarely seems all that convincing. This witch's spirit can make Azkadellia go on ruthless killing sprees, imprison her own parents, and rule the country with an iron fist, but can't withstand sisterly love? I don't know; it's not that I can never buy the Love Conquers All message, but I think it's usually applied WAY too conveniently.

In a way, I guess I'm biased, due to my love of the original Oz books. People are constantly reinterpreting the first story, and while that's good in a way, they always ignore the later ones. We've seen so many different versions of the Wicked Witch of the West, but few of the Nome King, and none of Ugu the Shoemaker (at least as far as I know). Even more than that, though, I'm not sure I understand what they were going for with this particular reworking. It was on the Sci Fi Channel, which suggests that it's supposed to be a science fiction retelling, but there were very few elements of sci-fi in it. Sure, there were robots and holographic projectors, but those thing were in the original books, even if they weren't called by those names. In fact, there was probably MORE sci-fi in L. Frank Baum's books than in this miniseries. I also saw a reference to Tin Man as "steampunk," but I can't recall any retro-futurism in it. Really, I think it might have worked best if they hadn't played up the Oz connection so much. Why not just come up with an unrelated fantasy series with some Oz references? That way, they might have come across as more clever and less "oh boy, another remake."
Tags: books, movies, oz, television
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  • 15 comments

  • Hollywood Hogwash

    I just got back from my second trip to Walt Disney World. The first time was with Beth for our honeymoon in 2008, which you can read about starting…

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    I'm going to write a little about the winter holidays, although really that was only a few days with regular work days in between them. I did take…

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