There is always a time, when it comes to movie sequels, to call well enough alone. “Home Alone 5″, for example (warning: this is apparently an actual product assuming you believe the IMDB), or even “A Christmas Story 2″ (this is also an actual product, currently available for rent or purchase in several locations).
Our friends at Breaking Glass Pictures sent over a copy of “After The Wizard”, something of an unofficial followup to “The Wizard Of Oz”, and will this prove to be one of those times that they should have left well enough alone?
“After The Wizard” takes us out to Kingman, Kansas, a small town like most any other. It’s got its share of dirt roads, its high school sports, its history, its dreams and its darker side too. Here in Kingman, there’s a little girl named Elizabeth who, like many others, has read and enjoyed the “Wizard of Oz” line of books. But Elizabeth enjoys them maybe just a bit too much, and has reached the point where she’s starting to believe she is, in fact, Dorothy from the series. The difference is, she just might be. She’s been seeing Dorothy’s old friends–the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow–appearing in her world, and they’ve got a bit of a problem. The kind of problem, of course, that’s going to require Dorothy’s intervention. But does Elizabeth have what it takes to be Oz’s salvation? Or is this a little girl farther gone than anyone thinks?
Personally, I had doubts about this one from the word go. Seeing the Tin Man, for example, wearing a knit cap screamed problem. I knew this was going to be low budget going in, but when the original “Wizard of Oz” (which isn’t technically the original–there were others before the release that popularized the series) can put up a more believable looking Tin Man than a movie shot in 2012, I know there’s a problem afoot. But when the act of removing the shrink wrap from the DVD actually managed to tear the back plastic cover over the synopsis, well, all I could think was the immortal line from the “Married…With Children” episode “Sue Casa, His Casa”: “Cheap cheap cheap cheap cheap cheap.”
It only gets worse when they actually start recapping the book series, in the narrative itself. It took better than a third of the movie before we even found out what the problem was that sent the Woodsman and the Scarecrow to Dorothy’s Earth in the first place, and they only talked about it in the most general of senses. There’s a thirty second sequence where braille is explained.
Thus, not only is “After The Wizard” a production so low budget that it looks like it could have been shot on the proceeds of can collection following a particularly boozy weekend, it’s also so poorly structured that it spends most of its time either recapping or rambling. It’s dull, it’s syrupy, and on the whole, it’s downright painful to watch.
Special features here will include writer and director commentary, several cast and crew interviews, a photo gallery, footage from the world premiere in Kingman, Kansas, and a trailer for “After The Wizard”. You would think with that level of self-serving nonsense going on in the presentation they could have been bothered to spare a thought for the hearing impaired and include subtitles, but no, “After the Wizard” is clearly not having that.
“After The Wizard” is a sludgy mess, shot on a budget that makes “shoestring” look opulent by comparison, and without even a good story and good acting to back it up. A catastrophic mess that makes the audience suffer right along with it, “After The Wizard” should have, indeed, left well enough alone.