Disney confirmed today Sam Raimi, director of the Spider-Man and Evil Dead films, is directing their prequel to the Wizard of Oz, and I’m kind of left scratching my head over the decision.
Sure, Raimi’s established himself in the last decade as capable of handling large-budget studio films with the first two Spider-Man movies (let’s not talk about the abomination that was the third one), but I’m not convinced he’s the right guy to take on the land of Oz, mostly because his films never have the tone I think of when I remember Wizard of Oz.
Raimi’s tone is more pure irreverence, like the Ash-on-Ash battle from Army of Darkness, or flat-out goofiness, like the massive facepalm that was the emo Spidey scene. They’re funny, sure, but do they fit in with what we know about the Great and Powerful Oz? Not really.
I don’t know if Raimi has it in him to reign in his jokey tendencies to make a movie that shouldn’t be played as a punchline. He’s got the right kind of whimsy for the job, but I, along with legions of other people who grew up on the MGM classic, will be kind of disappointed if he doesn’t take the source material seriously.