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A tent-pole miniseries release from RHI Entertainment and SCI FI Channel, Tin Man is a modern science fiction update of L. Frank Baums timeless "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." When a sorceress named Azkadellia scorches the once-beautiful land of OZ into a desolate wasteland, the only hope lies in an "outsider" named DG, a young Midwestern woman, whose troubling dreams have summoned her to the doomed paradise. D.G. embarks on a journey to find the great mystic man to save the O.Z. and on her way she befriends a scarecrow named Glitch, a tin cop named Cain, and gentle manimal named Raw. Journey beyond the yellow brick road withTin Man, now on DVD for the first time in this 2-Disc Collector's Edition with amazing bonus features and collectible packaging.
10-minutes beyond the brick road exclusively for DVD
Cast interviews, gag reels, and more
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One need fear little or no interference with gratification from the potential memory clash with the classic musical based on the same original. There is no singing to Arlen and Harburg tunes, and no attempt to duplicate the unique qualities of Bert Lahr, Ray Bolger and Jack Haley, much less, Margaret Hamilton (the wicked witch) or Billie Burke (The Good Witch).
Standing on its own, this is an entertaining version of the Frank Baum original, with a less distinguished cast than assayed the parts in the late thirties, but with a different set of expectations (straight acting) than pertained in the earlier work. The cast does a good job in a situation where overacting is invited by the situations played. No doubt to subdue the almost inevitable (with the older audience) temptation to recall the earlier musical score, this one has a strong musical background, often emphasized in scenes.
Unless divided into its component three parts by the listener, there is a tendency toward tedium. More than 90 minutes at a time is a bit overlong. Stick to the episode lengths and I think you will find it more enjoyable.
There is an adequate display of visual phenomena but not up to the level, BIG pictures today accomplish with the computer based imagery. All in all, I think this will prove good family watching in most homes.
Taken by itself, it's a more-than-passable modern kind of fantasy - gritty, noir at times, boiling with unresolved tensions and unexplored strengths that give plenty of room for each character to expand. Visuals are strong, even if they tend to rely on icons more than new imagery, but that's a fair way to get time-bounded story telling up and running. And, there's plenty here to echo today's headlines: harsh interrogation, deep-cover agents, S/M overtones in the Evil Sorceress and her corsetry. But, when you line it up against the classic rendering, that's where it really stands out. Old and new at the same time - riffing on the old as a jazz guitarist might, but respecting it.
The story follows D.G., a young woman in Kansas who lives at home on a farm, working as a waitress in a local diner, and yearning for a more exciting life, one where she better fits in. Without giving anything away, she is transported to the O.Z. (the Outer Zone) and meets up with updated versions of the tin man, cowardly lion, and scarecrow, who help her on her quests. However, while giving the occasional nod to the 1939 film, the story and characters in "Tin Man" are basically brand new, and are entertaining and imaginative.
For a miniseries, the special effects are quite good and very realistic. The actors are, by and large, talented and fit well into their characters, especially Alan Cumming as Glitch (the scarecrow), and Neal McDonough as the Tin Man. I had some problems with Zooey Deschanel's portrayal of DG, though. While Ms Deschanel is extremely talented, I felt that the scope of her character's emotions was too limited and too bland, when greater passion and amazement would have been more appropriate.
While I enjoyed the story as a whole, I also thought some of the dialog was a bit too stilted and/or trite at times, and that there were several holes in the plot that could have been better explained. Again, without trying to give anything away, the evil witch has her purpose, but it's never really clear why she wants to do it, especially as the likely impact would be the end of the world. The first two episodes were better in this regard, while the third (and final episode) felt a bit rushed. I also would have liked a slightly longer and more conclusive ending after DG and company defeat the witch.
Taken as a whole, though, this is a good miniseries. It runs to about 4 ½ hours of actual viewing time, and is well worth watching. I liked how they turned the story of the Wizard of Oz inside out, along with the superior productions values, and how well the actors fit their roles.