Monday, March 11, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful - spoilers and subtle plot points

Oz the Great and Powerful (OtGaP) is a fun movie. It is officially based on the books, not on the 1939 Wizard of Oz (WoO). Still, they managed to sneak in several images from WoO. There are some other clever plot points that should be pointed out.

Spoilers and trivia below.

In WoO, the "horse of a different color" changes colors. In OtGaP we see a pasture full of rainbow-colored horses.

At one point Oz is attacked by a lion which he scares away with a smoke pellet. Obviously, it was a cowardly lion.

Oz creates an army of scarecrows to fight the flying baboons. None of these talk, though.

When Glinda takes Oz to a protected city, you can see the Yellow Brick road end in a spiral. This is where Dorothy started. In QtGaP, this area is only inhabited by Munchkins but there are other groups in it as well in OtGaP.

While performing in Kansas, Oz is asked to make a girl in a wheelchair walk again. In the China Village, he is able to do this by gluing China Girl's legs back together. Joey King was the voice for both girls.

In Kansas, Oz says that he wants to be a cross between Houdini and Thomas Edison. To defeat the witches, he combines techniques from both, fulfilling his ambition.

In Kansas, Oz tells Annie that he doesn't want to be a good man, he wants to be a great one. Later Glinda (played by the same actress) tells him that he isn't a great man, he is a very good man.

The movie explains why, unlike anyone else in Oz, Theodora has green skin and how Oz went from someone who arrived in a balloon to the giant projected image.

While he is in Kansas, we see Oz project an image. He also uses his quick-drying glue.

OtGaP shares some plot elements with director Sam Rami's earleir Army of Darkness. In both of them, a man is torn from his own world and uses knowledge from some books he is carrying to defeat a supernatural army. Both movies have a pretty character suddenly possessed and become an ugly, evil witch.

All three witches carry a magical item which is the basis of her powers. Glinda carries a wand and can project light and fog. Theodora wears a large ruby ring which lets her hurl fireballs. Evanora wears an emerald necklace which lets her throw green lightening. Since this is destroyed, she must have replaced it with the ruby slippers by the WoO.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Fighting Robots

What happens if a couple of guys get together with some RC (Remote Control) model cars? Chances are, they will run them into each other and see who wins. Now, suppose they started armoring those cars?

That was the idea of Battlebots which had five seasons on TV between 2000 and 2003. The robots were divided into different weight classes and tried to disable each other. There were a few imitator seasons which were never as good.

Enter the Robot Combat League currently showing on Syfy. Instead of small robots on wheels operated by geeks with joysticks, these are giant humanoid robots. Each robot has a pair of operators. One maneuvers the robot and the other controls the arms with controllers that match the operator's movements. It was probably inspired by the movie Real Steel.

It sounds awesome but it isn't. There are showers of sparks which have to be rigged since the robots seem to be operated by hydraulics. Their movements are not fluid. They shuffle around, held upright by a long T-bar behind them. The arms are the main thing that moves. Except for the sparks and the trash-talking, the show is nothing but pairs of Rockem Sockem Robots ducking it out.