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Disney’s fantastical adventure Oz the Great and Powerful, from the director of the Spider-Man trilogy, follows Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics. When Diggs is hurled away to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot — until he meets three witches (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams), who aren’t convinced he’s the great wizard everyone’s expecting. Reluctantly drawn into epic problems facing Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it’s too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity — and even some wizardry — Oscar transforms himself into the great wizard and a better man as well.
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 242
- Fresh: 143
- Rotten: 99
- Average Rating: 6.0/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Rotten: A partially effective jumble whose elements clash rather than cohere, this solid but not spectacular effort stubbornly refuses to catch fire until it's almost too late.
Fresh: The new Oz falls short of the 1939 Oz in charm and innocence, and certainly in songs. But as family entertainment, it's hard to fault such a rapturous spectacle and astute, suspenseful piece of storytelling.
Rotten: Oz the Great and Powerful aims for nostalgia in older viewers who grew up on The Wizard of Oz and still hold the classic dear while simultaneously enchanting a newer, younger audience. It never really accomplishes either successfully.
Fresh: The more you like the Judy Garland film, the more you might appreciate "Oz the Great and Powerful."
NOT AS MAGICAL AS THE ORIGINAL, BUT STILL A FUN RIDE
In some way or another, we've all grown up with "The Wizard of Oz." With its unforgettable characters, groundbreaking visuals, and deft storytelling, not only did it pave the way for all other family films to follow, but it still remains one of the most celebrated and iconic achievements in the history of cinema. So when I first found out that Disney would be making a prequel to the 1939 classic with Sam Raimi (who helmed both the "Evil Dead" and "Spider-Man" franchises) as director, I was extremely unsure as to whether they'd be able to pull it off or not. Well, several months later, the moment of truth finally arrived as my friends and I gladly took our seats to see if this latest trip down the Yellow Brick Road was truly a worthy predecessor to the original. And in some ways, it actually was. The cast was well-chosen, the cinematography was just stunning, and the humor was often spot-on. And despite inevitably suffering from a lackluster script and some major tonal inconsistencies, the film still ended up entertaining me the whole way through. What can I say? It was a blast.
When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, it seems like he's finally hit the all-time jackpot - fame and fortune are simply his for the taking - that is, until he meets a trio of witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who aren't convinced he's the great and powerful wizard everyone's been eagerly expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it's too late. Putting his clever magic tricks to use through illusion, ingenuity, and even a bit of wizardry, Oscar is soon able to transform himself not only into the hero the people (and creatures) of Oz need, but into a better man as well.
From the very beginning, "Oz the Great and Powerful" wastes practically no time in immersing us into the story. Like the 1939 movie, it opens with a relatively short black-and-white prologue, only to expand into a technicolor world of surreal scenery when Oscar finally enters the Land of Oz. And I have to say, the people in charge of special effects really did an astounding job because the brilliant visuals in this sequence easily blew me away. As the flick moves along, we meet some colorful characters like Finley (Zach Braff), a wisecracking flying monkey in a bellhop's uniform who serves as Oscar's loyal assistant, and China Girl (Joey King), a girl who's, well, made out of china. The two of them make for some truly charming additions to our hero's big journey, although they're definitely no Scarecrow, Tin Man, or Cowardly Lion. As for the three witches, they're actually played quite effectively by Kunis, Weisz, and Williams. Even though it's pretty obvious which one of them will inevitably turn into into the Wicked Witch, it's still an undeniably intense moment when she makes her iconic transformation, which mostly occurs off-camera. And then there's James Franco, who does a surprisingly impressive job playing the lead character in a family film. While providing some much-needed personality and authentic depth for his otherwise unassuming role, he also makes Oscar the movie's sly, unpredictable anti-hero of sorts, a man who's in eternal battle with his virtues and vices, that is, until he finds a pointless love interest in Glinda (I'm not even gonna bother going into that). The film is indeed rooted in formulaic, self-sufficient storytelling that hardly tries to do anything groundbreaking in terms of narrative creativity. Plus, the visual spectacle is often placed right in center stage rather than the development of any significant characters. However, despite its overly simplistic tone and troublesome lack of restraint, "Oz" still remains a solidly engaging treat that ultimately gets the job done in terms of entertainment.
"Oz the Great and Powerful" may not quite be the fantastical, imaginative adventure most of us were expecting, but that hardly means it's a bad film. In fact, I'd say it's probably one of the top experiences I've had at the movies so far this year. The characters are fun and interesting in their own way (even the not-so-memorable ones), the CGI visuals and special effects are absolutely breathtaking, and the heartfelt homages to the iconic "Wizard of Oz" are both nostalgic and sweetly surprising. Of course, there are a few distracting issues that the film never really gets around to fixing, such as pacing that usually drags at times and a plot that fails to reach any emotional climax, but in this case, nearly all the good areas tend to outweigh the bad. Long story short, if you and your family are just looking for some good, old-fashioned fantasy escapism, "Oz" is a solid way to pass the time.
A Welcome Return to Oz
Having practically grown up with "The Wizard of Oz" as a kid, it was an absolute must for me to see this long-awaited prequel once it finally came to theaters. Loaded with an all-star cast, a bevy of breathtaking visuals, and a promising director, I could only hope for the best from "Oz the Great and Powerful." And thankfully, it turned out to be one of the most enthralling experiences I've had at the movies in quite a while. I'm serious. This was an incredibly entertaining film in just about every way. The characters are fun, enjoyable, and even a bit sympathetic at times, and the story is light and whimsical enough to appeal to moviegoers of any age. It also helps that the flick moves along at a solid pace, despite finishing in at just a little over two hours. What's even more impressive is the gorgeously detailed imagery, which completely immerses you into the Land of Oz to the point where you actually start to believe you've been transported to another world. Well, at least that's how I felt when I was watching this movie for the first time. Of course, "The Great and Powerful" is far from perfect. It does suffer from a few considerably distracting drawbacks along the way, such as the lack of tonal consistency in the script and some of the lead actors' awkwardly over-the-top performances at times. But still, taking everything the film gets right into account, those issues aren't really that concerning. Overall, I have to say I had a genuinely fun time with this flick. Sure, when compared to the 1939 classic, it hardly lights a candle, but it's still a pleasant way to pass the time. The cinematography is visually stunning, the set and costume designs are delightfully unique, and the characters, while nowhere near as memorable as the original cast, are entertaining in at least some way. It may not be the sharpest or most disciplined film when it comes to acting or storytelling, but "Oz the Great and Powerful" nonetheless acts as a witty, grand, and charming piece of escapism that the whole family will find enjoyable. If you haven't experienced this adventure yet, it's well worth a rent.
Must be all kids
This was a huge disappointment for me and my wife. Being big fans of the original, we had hoped for a solid modern reboot prequel. Instead, we got SUPER cheesy/corny acting, subpar special effects, and an overall horribly-acted/cast movie. Decent story line, horrible execution. The only explanation I have for all the good reviews is due to parents with children and kiddos with relatively low movie standards simply enjoying the storyline. For adults, this is NOT a good movie...one of the worst movies I've seen with this much hype and anticipation leading up to its release.