Return to Oz
is a 1985 live-action sequel that split critics and audiences alike: you don't fool with Mother Nature, spit into the wind, remake Casablanca
, or trash the land of Oz. The 1939 classic musical
is so beloved that it's almost impossible to imagine seeing Dorothy in shock therapy, a crumbled yellow brick road, the ruins of Emerald City, and the Tin Man turned into stone. But L Frank Baum, the author of the original Oz books, portrayed just that with his continuing stories of Dorothy. When you get by these tough facts, the film version is solid entertainment for the over-seven set.
Dorothy (a 10-year-old Fairuza Balk in her debut) is back in Kansas, where Aunt Em (Piper Laurie) is at the end of her rope: her niece is not sleeping and going on about a place called Oz. Therapy may be the answer, but luckily the scary clinic goes dark before Dorothy can be, er, cured (but the lead-up will scare the munchkins out of most kids). She wakes up in the land of Oz, now in tatters, and searches for its king, the Scarecrow. A new set of friends, including a tin soldier, a talking chicken, and a pumpkin man, help her against new villains, including Princess Mombi (Jean Marsh)--complete with a set of detachable heads--and the evil Nome King (Nicol Williamson with a great assist from Will Vinton's Claymation). The sole directorial effort of Oscar-winning editor Walter Murch is stuffed with marvellous effects that foreshadow later works by Tim Burton and the Henson non-Muppet films. --Doug Thomas
Dorothy finds herself back in the Land of Oz where she meets new friends like Tik Tok and Jack Pumpkinhead as well as new enemies.