This review in from one of my favorite Forum lurkers asking me to post it for him:
TOM AND JERRY AND THE WIZARD OF OZ - A REVIEW
(contains major spoilers - DO NOT READ if you want to be surprised).
NOTE: This review focuses only on the depiction of MGM's "The Wizard of Oz" in the new 2011 Tom & Jerry film and not on the usual antics found on DVD's of the famous cat/mouse team.
As Oz fans have been seeing a resurgence of interest in "Oz" movies lately, there is a new animated version that is being released now that has not gotten a lot of publicity - yet, but should be getting tons for it's effort. Over the weekend, I was able screen this one hour long film, thanks in part to Time Warner Cable as "T&J&Oz" is already on their "Movies On Demand" option all over the US, as it is on several other cable outlets around the country as well, from what friends have said.
Being a fan of 'The Movie' (as Eric G and I, too call it) and practically living with the character of the MGM Wicked Witch for over 20 years now, I know what to look for in terms of detail and accuracy in MGM parody/recreation product. However, my opinions are just that, my opinions, and we all have them. Yet in this case, most 'Movie Fans' will agree this one's a winner for it's loving depiction of the film, obviously recreated by longtime fans of it. I will be using the word 'accurate' for the animation often, because, well, it IS accurate to the film, more so than anything 'cartoony' I have seen since the 1990 DIC TV Series/cartoon, and DIC's now pales in comparison.
"Tom And Jerry And The Wizard Of Oz" is about as close as one will come to an animated adaptation of "The Movie", complete with shot by shot re-creations of about 45% of the film's famous scenes and a re-scoring of the MGM music by an orchestra that sounds like the original with a few new twists, such as utilizing the unused-in-the-film Miss Gulch music for the Gale parlor scene is this T&J film. First and foremost, this IS a "Tom And Jerry" movie, but you cannot escape the fact that those two characters are there to 'help along' the plot of the 1939 film as it unravels for us, in incredibly accurate depictions. The film was created by WB Animation, and as such, I expected it to be perfect, accurate and no stone unturned for detail, and I was not disappointed (and neither were the three Oz friends/fans who also viewed it in different parts of the US this weekend as well).
The animation/directing/storyboarding was done by the team of Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone, and I must say, this was like watching a high-quality animation of "The Movie". It was impressive and lovingly re-created, tho I was surprised I did not see any prominent 'Oz Community' members in the credits for the incredible attention to detail. My hat is off to Mr. Brandt and Mr. Cervone. The animation, after storyboarded, was outsourced to Yearmin Productions in Korea, and the result is more than satisfying for MGM movie fans, given that so many iconic "Oz" scenes are included, with a little Tom And Jerry thrown in for good measure, including some of T&J's own stable of famous characters like Tuffy, Butch, and Spike and the hilarious Droopy as Winkie dogs (Going upppp, sir?)
Again, 1939 Oz fans will no doubt be comparing this 2011 version to the adequate 1990 DIC animated series, but that TV series, though well done for it's time, will now be completely overshadowed technically by this one, and once a die-hard movie fan views this one, it'll leave them wishing the producer's had re-created the entire film - It's satisfying in a way that the DIC version could never have been, opening with a more realistic looking (but very 1940's period animation-like) Dorothy running down the Kansas road with Toto complete with farmhands Hunk, Hickory and Zeke, Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, etc. The animation harkens back to the old WB cartoons of the 40's without losing the "Oz" feel. It also has the look of being 'cel' drawn by hand, with minimal CGI.
Note: The last half hour focuses on the capture of Dorothy by the Wicked Witch in an accurate shot-by-shot depiction of all those MGM scenes in sequence, The "Oz" Scenes included in this cartoon that accurately depict 'The Movie' are as follows.
SCENES OF "THE MOVIE" INCLUDED (AND NEAR OR EXACT 'SHOT BY SHOT') with appropriate MGM scoring:
Full MGM "Wizard Of Oz" opening, score and credits
Opening shot of Dorothy complaining about Miss Gulch (verbatim) and running to the Gale farm and complaining to Uncle Henry/Aunt Em at the chicken coop.
The Farmhands, Hunk, Hickory and Zeke
Dorothy falls into the hog pen, (shot by shot)
"Somewhere Over The Rainbow" (shot by shot)
Miss Gulch sequence (shot by shot and expanded with Tom and Jerry attempting to kick her off her bicycle)
Cyclone (the MGM score is included here too, and the scene is almost shot by shot, including Dorothy coming back to the farm, the family into the cellar, and the Gulch/Witch transformation)
Opening the door to Oz
Dorothy in the Munchkinland carriage
"Optimistic Voices"/Poppy Field
Gates opening to Emerald City (shot by shot), meeting the Cabby/Merry Old Land Of Oz
The Wizard's Throne Room
Witch at the window sending off her monkeys (shot by shot)
Witch's Tower room (shot by shot)
Zapped by the Slippers (shot by shot)
Witch on balcony/throwing hourglass (shot by shot)
Chase thru Castle (in it's entirety and shot by shot)
Scarecrow On fire (shot by shot)
Witch melting (shot by shot, including the multi-cam angles of the water hitting the Witch just like the film)
The Wizard's unveiling (shot by shot)
The Balloon (shot by shot).
Glinda's arrival and going home (shot by shot)
No place like home (with Professor Marvel, too).
There were some obvious deletions that were necessary to fit in the whole plot of the film and Tom and Jerry's antics to keep the story running. Professor Marvel appears only at the end, and I had to wonder if he was included in the prologue but deleted at the last minute - it goes straight from Miss Gulch's run-in with T&J to the Twister sequence. Out of necessity, Munchkinland is truncated to fit in more of T&J's antics, however, the 'trip to Emerald City' focuses on T&J trying to catch up with Dorothy and friends, and when they do, that is when the action depicts 'The Movie' almost shot by shot in the scenes chosen.
All in all, I think this version did the film justice, and everyone involved should be commended for a job well done. Call your local cable company for details on how to purchase. There are 1, 2 and 3 day rental options available depedning on the cable company. Prices run from $3-4.99 for 48 hours viewing in your home.