Aspiring singer Ashanti (there’s some imaginative casting for you) and her pet Toto (Pepe the king prawn) are transported to Oz by a tornado. The story then plays out in familiar form, with the roles of the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Wicked Witch of the West being essayed by, respectively, Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzy and Miss Piggy.
Though I have reservations about forging on with the Muppets after Jim Henson’s death, there is still evidence of the old spirit here. The Muppet S…ow always appealed to adults as well as to children, and there are plenty of gags for the older viewers here: Toto tells us when to hit play if we own Dark Side of the Moon, and Quentin Tarantino puts in an extended cameo as he tries to convince Kermit to go for a Kill Bill climax to the film. What the younger viewers will make of these elements is another question, and therein likes a problem: in the past, the Muppets appealed to both audiences simultaneously. Here, viewers have to wait their turn to be tossed goodies.
The 5.1 audio is given the most to do by the songs, and the music certainly comes through handsomely. There is some good deployment of sound FX as well, however, most notably during the tornado sequence. The audio is clear, never drowned out, and never distorted.
The aspect ratio is fullscreen, and the image is sharp. The colours are very good, and go some way to recreating the black-and-white/Technicolor contrast of the original film, as the colours become much richer once Ashanti arrives in Oz. There is no edge or grain visible. A good-looking transfer.
The extras are aimed at kids, or adults who think like kids. In other words, the Tarantino interview (conducted by Pepe) is just silly, and much the same can be said of Pepe’s behind-the-scenes featurette. You also have some bloopers, and the expected trailers. The menu’s main screen is animated and scored, and the secondary screens are scored.
I was prepared for something really awful here, and was pleasantly surprised. It won’t joint the ranks of the immortals, but it could be worse.
Special Features List
- Making-of Featurette
- Interview with Quentin Tarantino
- Outtakes and Bloopers