Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
“I can’t believe it Toto, we’re really back in Oz,” says Dorothy (voiced by Lea Michele) to her faithful furry companion as she realizes that a wondrous and beautiful rainbow has brought her back to the magical world she once saved from the evil Wicked Witch of the West in the animated sequel Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns.
But the wonderful land of Oz is going through some very dark times as a new villain known as the Jester (Martin Short) has taken control by stealing the Wicked Witch of the West’s old broom. He’s created a magical scepter out of the evil witch’s brook and has taken as his prisoner, Glinda (Bernadette Peters), along with other leaders of Oz. In his quest to rule the kingdom, he’s after the rulers of Oz: Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), The Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer), and The Cowardly Lion (Jim Belushi). Realizing they need Dorothy to help them defeat the Jester, Scarecrow brings her back to Oz with his magical rainbow creation.
Meanwhile, Dorothy trying to get to Emerald City to see her friends, meets along the way an extremely overweight owl named Wiser (Oliver Platt), Marshal Mallow (Hugh Dancy) and a small China Princess (Megan Hilty). With her new travel companions in tow, Dorothy and – of course – Toto set off to reach the Emerald City and save her friends and Oz.
Unimpressive and soulless, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is an empty, flat, and emotionless attempt to cash in on the 1939 cherished movie classic. The film has a solid and versatile voice cast to bring these lovable characters to life, but the actors have little to almost nothing to work with due to a lackluster script full of silly, boring lines. The addition of the new characters lack the imagination and personality of the original travel companions from Wizard of Oz (Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion) who helped Dorothy defeat the evil witch in the first adventure. It speaks volumes that Toto the dog has more personality than any of the new friends Dorothy makes in this decidedly un-magical sequel.
The computer animation is another weakness of Legends of Oz, with the film looking bland and uninspired. There’s nothing visually striking or impressive to be found in the entire (thankfully short) running time. In fact, the movie looks and feels like it should have gone straight to DVD/Blu-ray.
Perhaps the biggest problem with Legends is all the forgettable and uninspiring songs throughout the film. Not one even comes close to the classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” sung by the remarkable Judy Garland or even “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.”
Missing any real heart, imagination, or magic, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is a lifeless fantasy adventure that deserves to have nothing but empty seats in the theaters where it’s playing. Better the movie-going public stay at home and watch the original 1939 musical fantasy classic The Wizard of Oz. Now that is true entertainment that won’t have you clicking your heels together and wishing you were anywhere but sitting through Legends of Oz.
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is rated PG for some scary images and mild peril.
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