'Tin Man (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)'
(Zooey Deschanel, Neal McDonough, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / (2007) 2008 / Rhi Entertainment)
Overview: A tent-pole miniseries release from RHI Entertainment and SCI FI Channel, Tin Man is a modern science fiction update of L. Frank Baum’s timeless "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." When a sorceress named Azkadellia scorches the once-beautiful land of OZ into a desolate wasteland, the only hope lies in an "outsider" named DG, a young Midwestern woman, whose troubling dreams have summoned her to the doomed paradise. D.G. embarks on a journey to find the great mystic man to save the O.Z. and on her way she befriends a scarecrow named Glitch, a tin cop named Cain, and gentle manimal named Raw. Journey beyond the yellow brick road withTin Man, now on DVD for the first time in this 2-Disc Collector's Edition with amazing bonus features and collectible packaging.
DVD Verdict: I loved the premise behind this--a darker, more adult, epic fantasy version of the Wizard of Oz. I was actually pretty psyched about seeing this. Did it deliver? Well, kind of.
The plot moves along at a good clip for the most part, and the special effects are surprisingly well-done for a made-for-TV miniseries. I liked that the monkey bats seemed to be some sort of puppetry or stop motion rather than entirely CGI. But overall, I was left with the feeling that this series could have been so much better.
One of the biggest problems for me was the dialogue. Tin Man suffers from a severe case of "writer speak"--characters spout lots of "clever" lines that no real person would ever say. It doesn't help that Zooey Deschanel seems to be locked into a narrow range of acting. I don't know if it's her fault or the director's, but regardless of what's going on she conveys a deadpan, sardonic nonchalance. When she's swept into another world by a supernatural storm, she takes it in stride with a shrug and a quip. When the munchkins (now a bunch of psychotic, ugly tree-dwelling trolls) discuss torturing her for information, she seems only mildly disgruntled. "You're out of your tiny minds," she tells them, in the same complaining tone someone might say, "This burger is overdone." I understand that they wanted her to be a tough heronine. Fine, but a little bit of realistic human emotion wouldn't hurt. A lot of the cutesy abbreviations got to me, as well. Dorothy Gale is now "DG." Oz is "the O.Z." I'm surprised the Wizard wasn't "the Big W" or something.
My other main complaint is the villain's motive, or non-motive, rather. Azkadallia wants some special emerald she can put into a machine that will blot out the sun and engulf the O.Z. in darkness. Why? What is that going to accomplish? In the original Wizard of Oz the Wicked Witch is one-dimensionally evil for no reason--which is forgivable, considering that it's a children's book. Tin Man is supposed to be a more serious, adult version of the tale, so I was hoping for a more complex and realistic villain. There's a bit of a twist toward the end revealing that Azkadallia is possessed by some kind of evil entity resembling a witch, but that doesn't change much. We still have a main villain (the witch entity) who does evil things for no apparent reason. No moral ambiguity here.
Despite all this, I don't regret watching Tin Man. There were some genuinely funny moments and enough twists and turns in the plot to keep me engaged. But though it was entertaining, I didn't feel like it really left me with anything to think about. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Beyond The Yellow Brick Road
On The Set with the Director
The Brain, Heart and Courage of the Movie