'Oz the Great and Powerful' (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
(James Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, et al / Blu ray+DVD / PG / 2013 / Walt Disney Studios)
Overview: 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.
Blu ray+DVD Verdict: In truth, all cards on the table, I love 'The Wizard of Oz' (come on now, who doesn't?!) and I have read all the books and watched all the movies. Yes, there are lots of books by L. Frank Baum. And while this is a pretty sincere attempt to pay homage to the original movie and borrow from the books, it seems too predictable. The performances of the witches are powerful and pretty great. James Franco, as Oz, has to work his way into the role as does Oz as the savior of Oz.
The movie is heavy with CGI which is great because the world of Oz is brought to life, but it's also sad because the original movie didn't rely so heavily on special effects. And the familiar Disney sidekick is used throughout the movie which can get annoying since it's a tried and true method to introduce comic relief for the company's movies as well as allow the main character to voice his/her thoughts. Here the sidekick is actually more interesting than Oz at times although he isn't as annoying or cloying like Jar Jar Binks.
The real problem with this story, in my opinion, was (again, but it does bear a re-mention) the character of Oz. James Franco did an excellent job as Oz, however his character was just not likable. It's hard to root for a main character when he is a coward, selfish, a womanizer, a liar, and has generally no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Moreover, there is no real character development until the very end when he has some sort of epiphany and seemingly changes his ways.
The truth is that at this point of the movie, it's not realistic and is too little too late. With the exception of his interactions with China Girl, he spends most of the movie demonstrating his low quality as a person. The romance he has with the good witch was rushed and not believable. In my opinion, if a romance is not developed correctly, the movie is probably better off without it.
The end result is that rooting for Oz is nearly impossible. I found myself rooting for Theodora over Oz towards the end of the movie. Considering Oz is the main character and Theodora is a wicked witch that is a bad thing.
The Magic of “Oz The Great and Powerful” (Second Screen Experience)
The Sounds of Magical Oz
Sleight of Hand: Zach Braff Puppet Theater
Mariah Carey Music Video
My Journey in Oz by James Franco
Mr. Elfman’s Musical Concoctions
China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief
Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas to Oz
Walt Disney and the Road to Oz