on December 10, 2007
If you are expecting ruby slippers and a cackling green lady, you are in for an awakening of your own. Growing up with singing munchkins, I realized, hey, I am a grownup. And SciFi seemed to realize it too with a magnificent departure from the 1939 MGM film to a brilliant, futuristic, decadent, and sometimes apocalyptic telling. The reinventions of characters and fantastical sets soon transport you from the familiar to a place you find yourself hard to take your eyes off of-- from phosphorous-glowing trees, desolate paths, Metropolitan-like art deco palaces, and underworlds unlike anything and then again reminiscent of a certain alphabet city pre-Rudy.
The story itself is not for the kiddies. Mine were told continuously to leave the room, go play, and find something else to do. But the grown up fairy tale is long overdue. The story actually had twists, turns, and menacing meaning-- much more substance and meaning than the trifles the network and cable gurus seem to thrust down our throats.
I honestly cannot wait until the DVD comes out to feast my peepers on the rich masterpiece SciFi laid out for the holidays. (A much better smorgasborg than the Cheeto-fare of Lifetime).
And for just desserts-- SciFi scored an incredible coup with incredibly gifted actors perfectly tailored for each role-- most notably Alan Cumming for Glitch, Neal McDonough as the titular Tin Man, and the remarkable "evil" Azkadelia played by Kathleen Robertson.
Evil no longer is a personality trait to just carry a plot, but in this series, actually has a real beginning, reason to exist, and a true part in throughout the series up to the climatic end. This series is like a force of nature that I found myself carried away in-- somewhat like DG.
on December 9, 2007
This will sound wierd, but this movie is like a realistic explanation for the original wizard of oz. I know its incorrect to say this, but, when I watch this movie I feel like its the real version, and the old movie is like a watered down "kids" version of the story. That being said, I really enjoyed it, all six hours of it on the Sci-fi channel. Anyway, I will definitely be purchasing this when it comes out. Its so cool to see a movie you kind of know, but then dont really know at all! I recommend it for anyone, all ages.
For many people, THE WIZARD OF OZ is one of their favorite films of all time. Frank L. Baum's original story became a hugely popular and critical success not long after it was published and the story of the THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ and over 100 years later is still popular and hugely influential (look at the massive success of the musical WICKED). Despite this, nowadays many people have never read the original story or books that Baum wrote. If they had they would begin to see that Oz isn't necessarily the bright and always cheerful place that the 1939 pictured. Oz was a fantastical place, but like in all fairy tales, evil and darkness is lurking in the shadows. Just take the flying monkeys. Many people think that monkeys are cute and sometimes they are. But monkeys are also very cruel creatures that like to play with their own feces and can be quite vicious and the idea of monkeys that can fly and are large enough to lift a lion is very frightening. There's all kinds of creatures like that in Oz, proving that beneath the glitter Oz can be a very scary place, indeed, and a modern update of the tale would make for a spectacular movie.
Thus, the Sci-Fi Channel stepped in and updated the story with the airing of TIN MAN in December 2007. TIN MAN follows a young woman named DG (Zooey Deschanel). DG is living in rural Kansas. She works as a waitress at the local diner in town, rides a motorcycle, keeps getting chased around by Police Officer Gulch, and dreams of moving to a different place and living a more exciting life. DG is a fantastic artist and great mechanic. She also starts having bad dreams that start to occur more and more frequently. Late one night DG is awaken by a giant tornado, with a group of armed men in long coats, headed towards the family farmhouse. Before she can really understand what is happening DG is being chased by the men in long coats and is pushed by her parents into the twister and taken to a completely different world, the O.Z. She undergoes a series of adventures and is joined in her quest to find her parents by a man who has had his brain taken out and has a zipper on his skull, a man who was locked in an iron suit for over a decade who used to be a police officer or "Tin Man", and a humanoid lion who has the gifts of healing and telepathy.
I saw the advertisements for TIN MAN when it first aired, but was unable to watch the special. It's a shame because the mini-series became the single highest television event for the Sci-Fi Channel in their history. After a former student recommend that I watch the series, I made sure to watch it when it aired again in March 2008 and later watched the DVD. The overarching story is familiar, but the O.Z. is a much different and darker place than the Oz that people are probably familiar. I found the story fascinating. The film features a great cast of highly talented actors which gives the production a slightly higher level of creditability than many other Sci-Fi specials. The special effects are spectacular and the score is riveting.
With that said, there are a few weaknesses in the script. For instance, the timeframe that the story takes place incredible if not impossible and the whole idea of the flying monkeys being magical tattoos that fly off the wicked witch's chest is more than a bit unsettling. I also was disappointed by the third part of the series. The first two parts of the series were well plotted, but the third section is rushed and concludes rather abruptly. The story would have been better if the final act was extended and more evenly paced with a satisfying epilogue.
Still the TIN MAN is a great film. It updates the story of THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ without minimizing it and in fact extends the legend of Oz. Also, unlike many others who have seen the film I think TIN MAN is perfectly suitable for most viewers, including children. TIN MAN is a fairy tale. Fairy tales are supposed to have an element of darkness and suspense in them because fairy tales are really about life and sad, dark, and scary things exist in life. Besides, flying monkeys really don't exist and if they did we should all be scared of them anyway.
Recommended for people who enjoy films with a good story, people who enjoy quality fantasy films, and people who have actually read some of the original Oz books,
The DVD includes several extras including the making-of featurette "Beyond the Yellow Brick Road--The Making of TIN MAN"; behind the scene footage of director Nick Willing; a blooper reel; interviews with Nick Willing, Alan Cumming, Neal McDonough, and Zooey Deschanel; the original TIN MAN trailer, and trailers for THE MIST and THE HOGFATHER.
on February 3, 2008
WARNING: SOME SPOILERS
I loved the premise behind this--a darker, more adult, epic fantasy version of the Wizard of Oz. I was actually pretty psyched about seeing this. Did it deliver? Well, kind of.
The plot moves along at a good clip for the most part, and the special effects are surprisingly well-done for a made-for-TV miniseries. I liked that the monkey bats seemed to be some sort of puppetry or stop motion rather than entirely CGI. But overall, I was left with the feeling that this series could have been so much better.
One of the biggest problems for me was the dialogue. Tin Man suffers from a severe case of "writer speak"--characters spout lots of "clever" lines that no real person would ever say. It doesn't help that Zooey Deschanel seems to be locked into a narrow range of acting. I don't know if it's her fault or the director's, but regardless of what's going on she conveys a deadpan, sardonic nonchalance. When she's swept into another world by a supernatural storm, she takes it in stride with a shrug and a quip. When the munchkins (now a bunch of psychotic, ugly tree-dwelling trolls) discuss torturing her for information, she seems only mildly disgruntled. "You're out of your tiny minds," she tells them, in the same complaining tone someone might say, "This burger is overdone." I understand that they wanted her to be a tough heronine. Fine, but a little bit of realistic human emotion wouldn't hurt. A lot of the cutesy abbreviations got to me, as well. Dorothy Gale is now "DG." Oz is "the O.Z." I'm surprised the Wizard wasn't "the Big W" or something.
My other main complaint is the villain's motive, or non-motive, rather. Azkadallia wants some special emerald she can put into a machine that will blot out the sun and engulf the O.Z. in darkness. Why? What is that going to accomplish? In the original Wizard of Oz the Wicked Witch is one-dimensionally evil for no reason--which is forgivable, considering that it's a children's book. Tin Man is supposed to be a more serious, adult version of the tale, so I was hoping for a more complex and realistic villain. There's a bit of a twist toward the end revealing that Azkadallia is possessed by some kind of evil entity resembling a witch, but that doesn't change much. We still have a main villain (the witch entity) who does evil things for no apparent reason. No moral ambiguity here.
Despite all this, I don't regret watching Tin Man. There were some genuinely funny moments and enough twists and turns in the plot to keep me engaged. But though it was entertaining, I didn't feel like it really left me with anything to think about.
on December 19, 2007
I agree this is a brilliant re-imagining of the original Wizard of OZ. There are such masterful turns and metaphors that take time to figure out long after viewing. For instance, it took me time to realize that the Grey Gale referred to the original version which was in sepia and when DG encounters Dorothy Gale she is in black and white with the exception of her slippers and the red 39 on the heart outside the farmhouse (referring back to the original year the Wizard of Oz was made)--but the Dorothy Gale that DG found was gray (the gray gale). Also the way that Emerald City gets reused as the quest for the Emerald and power. Alot of people have questioned the title of the mini-series because the tin man wasn't the central character but I think that the tin man becomes a metaphor for the way that each character is locked in their own prison helplessly watching as destruction seems to fill their lives and they fight to get out of those prisons. The end was a bit schmaltzy for my taste -- all the twists and turns in the plot kept me hopping so I was expecting a bit more of bang. I thought the performances were first-rate and the difficulty of taking an overly dramatic musical and turning it into a drama that was believable and not overblown was key--I think Zooey Deschanel's DG was spot on in having the right amount of sarcasm and bewilderment and she really pulled you into the story. I am awaiting the DVD--it will be refreshing to watch it in one sitting instead of across three nights. Other critics have been less than generous to this effort but it isn't the sort of thing that one grabs at one sitting--it really does require that you think back to the details of the original as well as become involved in a new world. I can't say enough good things about Tin man. It is so smart on so many levels that I think it flew over so many critics heads and they just didn't want to spend the time to figure out how the plot grabbed so many details from the Wizard of Oz and used them to tell a whole new story. I highly recommend this for everyone.
This well made for TV mini-series Directed by Nick Willing will hold your attention from the beginning. All the actors were well chosen and Zooey Deschanel as DG will enchant you. At first it seems like any other contemporary contrived script that was just using a snappy title. Then you think this is Smallville and where is Clark? Then slowly the story unfolds and before you realize hat has happened you are caught up in the intrigue of a complex story with all of the elements found in Frank Baum's original story but actually better designed. The film, even though being promoted as the darker side of OZ, in reality is just a little more down to earth or up in the sky fairy tale.
DG grows up in a rural town by elderly loving parents. There she is a waitress tat is contemplating of going out into the wide world. She has strange dreams of another world. Before her parents can tell her, the other world becomes a reality and DG becomes the target or key to an insidious plot to destroy the O.Z.
Bridge to Terabithia [Blu-ray]
on December 24, 2007
I was very impressed with this series. Not only is the story original and fresh, but also the writing and acting are both so far above normal as to be nearly unbelievable. Most SciFi series are good, but far from perfect, but this one....well, all of the main actors are brilliant and even some of the more minor characters are well written and acted. The critters are well done and believable. As a welcome addition, Kathleen Robertson is brilliant. Such a beautiful woman, yet she can play the evil parts so well. I intend to add this to my collection when it comes out. Yes, this production is that good. Kudos to SciFi!!!!!!
I must admit that I was hesitant to watch SciFi Channel's revisioning of "The Wizard of Oz" due to the fact that they were heavily promoting it. I've learned through the years that 95% of all films, television series, and music that is heavily hyped is usually not that great in the end. I was pleasantly surprised with this excellent story written by Craig Van Sickle and Steven Long Mitchell. The tale centers around D.G., a young girl who doesn't feel like she fits in her hometown. Her parents always talk of better times in a town that seems otherworldly. Little does she know that there is another place in the magical and mystical O.Z. When she's chased into a tornado, D.G. finds herself in a world where the wicked Azkadellia and her goons (including flying monkeys) are out to retrieve a secret from her that she doesn't even know she has. Along the way, D.G. meets a group of unlikely heroes like the goofy Glitch, the sensitive Raw, and the standoffish Cain. What's D.G.'s secret? Who's the Mystic Man? What destiny awaits D.G. and her friends? Watch "Tin Man" to find out.
Directed by Nick Willing, "Tin Man" features an excellent cast. The lovely Zooey Deschanel portrays D.G. Kathleen Robertson is wickedly fun as Azkadellia. Alan Cumming shines as Glitch, and steals many scenes in this film. Raoul Trujillo, who's known to fans of SciFi Channel's "Frankenfish" as Ricardo, displays solid emotion as the tortured Raw. Richard Dreyfuss does an excellent, albeit brief, job as the Mystic Man. Neal McDonough portrays the title character, and his performance begs the question as to why he hasn't broken out as a legitimate star in his own right.
The special effects are very good for a made-for-TV story. The music is above par as well. Willing drives the story along at a solid pace, littering it with a nice blend of humor, suspense and action. Fans of L. Frank Baum's book and the classic film adaptation will see plenty of nods to both.
The DVD's special features are okay, but nothing really stands out except for the interviews of the primary cast. McDonough and Cumming provide the most interesting interviews. There's a gag reel that's more of a silly documentary than actual goofs. There is also"On The Set With The Director," and "Beyond The Yellow Brick Road," which gives the viewer a look behind the scenes.
As a whole, SciFi Channel and co. have outdone themselves with this mini-series. They acquired a solid cast, good special effects and excellent direction and produced a wonderful new vision of a classic tale. Highly recommended to fans of fantasy and sci-fi as well as fans of children's fantasy tales. There is a bit of language and some violence, but parents should feel safe letting their older kids (seven and up) watch this film with them. Just be ready to "cough" when Azkadellia make a remark about D.G. and where she happens to be going.
on January 16, 2010
When I first saw the commercials for this show on television, I thought that it was a re-do of the old classic The Wizard of Oz. First that thought most be expelled if you are under the same impression. This show is not a re-do even though the main character goes by the name D.G. (which I assumed was Dorothy Gale) and there are characters who are obviously supposed to parallel the original characters. But never fear the show does address the parallel between the two, with an ah-hah moment near the end.
I never liked the original Wizard of Oz and the first time I watched this I watched with trepidation, however I was pleasantly surprised to like this version. One thing to keep in mind is that this show is very long, but put into several part for the ease of showing on television. I find that this can be either helpful or annoying depending on how you deal with sitting and watching a show for long periods of time. The first two parts are on the first DVD and the rest is on the second along with bonus features. I consider this one of the downsides, because who wants to change DVDs in the middle of a show. It is slightly reminiscent of long movies on VHS that had intermissions so you could change the tape.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this show and DVD set. And am glad that it came out on DVD. Just remember before purchase that this is not the original!
on April 27, 2008
Tin Man was a Sci Fi Channel mini-series where a more modern look is taken of Frank Baums The Wizard of Oz. As with the original, the main character is a young lady from Kansas, rather than going by the name Dorothy though, she's called DG. Also rather than being the cheerful girl who sings us along the Yellow Brick Road we have a young lady who's a little darker and feeling she's missing something in her life. Btw, for those not familiar, OZ in this telling is short for Outer Zone.
I loved the Tin Man character. Neal McDonough does a very good job showing us a man with heart and I also loved the setup for why he's that way. Alan Cumming does a good job as Glitch (the Scarecrow), and I enjoyed Kathleen Robertson (the wicked witch) and Zooey Deschanel (DG)in the first portion of the movie. Also, Richard Dryfus does a great job as the Mystic Man (the Wizard). Very interesting...
Story wise I loved the set up for the characters. The background for DG, Glitch, Tin Man and Raw (the Lion) are interesting. I also found myself interested in DG's family background, the relationship to the Wicked Witch, and also the relationship between this telling of the Wizard of Oz and the original (very nicely done when DG meets Dorothy Gale). The other big plus is showing OZ as being a dark place. This was best shown with Central City.
The worst bad was the bad guys. Zero was a Zero. The bad guys were incompetent and you almost have the feeling that if it weren't for the flying monkeys that DG and the rest would have walked away with everything. In the story telling department part 2 dragged a little. Some movements in the story were abrupt; others weren't finished very well because they chose to follow the stereotype. The worst part of this is when we go from the Central City to the Ice Palace on the Northern Island and DG meets her sister and becomes her prisoner. Other weaknesses included Raw and his kind; while nice it just didn't sell as well as it might have; and the bad guys equipment. A surplus M-3 halftrack, an armored car, and some guys running around in dusters with firearms just didn't impress me. If the director would have dropped the WWII surplus and the dusters it might have been better.
These were lacking to put it simply. Yes they have interviews with the director (in about three different versions) but nothing that moved me. I was looking for cut scenes, wardrobe, and there one called Bloopers I was expecting Bloopers rather than looking at the behind the scene staff.
I'll call this one 3.5 stars. I enjoyed the setup but the middle part almost put me to sleep. I do admire the effort that was done with this and I do believe the director should have had a real shot at a true mini-series (three episodes isn't enough. 1 or 2 more would have been better for the story). That said, I don't believe this is truly 4 star material. It's enjoyable and I'll watch it again but it's not something that will draw me to it on a regular bases.