A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this miniseries is nothing like the classic 1930s film it's based on. The Wizard of Oz was all about love and the nurturing goodness of home; here, the Outer Zone (aka "the O.Z.") is a dark, grim place where suspicion easily trumps affection. Evil sorceress Azkadellia uses force, fear, and magic to dominate the land -- her goons roam the countryside looking for rebels, and in the capital, Central City, hookers, strippers, and drunks hang out on the corners. There's some swearing ("crap," "bitch," etc.) and a fair amount of violence, but little gore. The film is dominated by an oppressive feeling of despair and gloom that could be scary for young children; even tweens might find it difficult to see that underneath the darkness is a story with a happy ending.
What's the story?
TIN MAN is a dark reimagining of The Wizard of Oz. The O.Z. (Outer Zone) is ruled by the evil sorceress Azkadellia (Kathleen Robertson), who desperately wants to find a powerful mystical emerald that will help her rule the land but has no idea where to look. Enter DG (Zooey Deschanel), an everyday farm girl -- er, modern feminist who rides a motorcycle and likes to roll up her sleeves and repair engines -- from Kansas who is transported into the O.Z. by, yes, a twister. Turns out DG and Azkadellia share a mysterious bond; unraveling this puzzle may help them locate the gem. Joining DG on her journey are Glitch (Alan Cumming), a flexible and loyal pal who's been lobotomized by Azkadellia's mad scientists (in other words, he has no brain); Raw (Raoul Trujillo), a nervous, hairy sort who sometimes has magical visions; and Cain (Neal McDonough), a former lawman -- or Tin Man, as they're known in the O.Z. -- who wants nothing more than revenge on the Longcoats who attacked his wife and son years earlier.
Is it any good?
If the cyclone had deposited Dorothy Gale not in Oz, but in the famed grim future of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, the result might have been Tin Man. The movie is filled with clever shout-outs to The Wizard of Oz. Look for DG's blue gingham waitress uniform back in Kansas, and the Munchkin-like members of the Resistance Fighters of the Eastern Guild.
But Tin Man is definitely its own film and a totally different story -- though ultimately it offers a similar message about the value of family. The original, though a timeless classic, may seem a bit too sugary to some people these days; this dark, modern version is an exciting and interesting update (though, at six hours, it sometimes drags).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why movies get remade (or, in this case, "reimagined"). In cases like this, where the new version is so different from the original, is it even accurate to consider it a remake? Do changes to stories you're already familiar with bother you? Families can also discuss the secrets that DG discovers, including her mysterious connection to Azkadellia. Is it OK to have conflicting feelings about a family member? How would you react if you found out that some of the people closest to you aren't who you thought they were? Also, Cain is seeking revenge on one of Azkadellia's henchmen, who carried out a brutal attack. Does that justify more violence? If there really is no place like home, how far would you go to protect yours, and would you want revenge on someone who destroyed it?
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