Return to Oz is an astonishingly somber, melancholy and, sadly, unengaging trip back to a favorite land of almost every American’s youth. Straight dramatic telling of little Dorothy’s second voyage to the Emerald City [based on The Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum] employs an amusement park-full of imaginative characters and special effects, but a heaviness of tone and absence of narrative drive prevent the flights of fancy from getting off the ground.
Opening finds Dorothy back at home in Kansas but unable to sleep because of disturbing memories of her recent trip. Reacting harshly, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry decide the girl has become deranged and send her to a clinic to receive electroshock therapy from sinister nurse Jean Marsh and doctor Nicol Williamson.
After nearly a half-hour of these nightmarish goings-on, Dorothy and her talking chicken Billina are delivered to Oz, but not a very inviting section of it. Landed on the edge of the Deadly Desert, Dorothy soon discovers the Yellow Brick Road in disrepair, the Emerald City in ruins and her companions from the previous trip turned to stone.
Along the way, as before, Dorothy accumulates some helpful friends.
1985: Nomination: Best Visual Effects