Oz the Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi (Spiderman, The Evil Dead), is Disney’s latest theatrical release. Based on L. Baum’s 1900 book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, this prequel to Warner Brother’s 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” is a visual, entertaining, and humorous treat for the whole family (ages 10+ recommended).
Opening up in the old-fashioned narrow screen black-and-white, we start off in the middle of the Baum Family Circus in the middle of Kansas. We meet Oscar Diggs (James Franco), who goes by Oz for short. This con man, womanizer, and mediocre magician and illusionist believes that he deserves better in life. After flirting with the wrong woman, Oscar barely escapes a good old beat-down by jumping into a hot air balloon. When he turns around thinking that he is finally safe, he looks up to see that he is being sucked up into a vicious tornado.
As Oscar wakes up after his spin inside of the tornado, the scene slowly opens up to widescreen and vibrant colors jump out as the Land of Oz is slowly revealed. When Oscar meets Theodora (Mila Kunis) for the first time, and is asked. “Are you the wizard?” Oscar says, “ah yes”. Theodora takes Oscar to Emerald City and tells him about the Prophesy of the Great Wizard. To Oscar’s surprise, endless treasure and a King’s throne are part of the Wizard’s reward. Unfortunately, there is an evil witch running around, and killing her is part of the Great Wizard’s job description.
In the adventure that follows, Oz has to figure out what kind of person he is. With the help of Finley (Zach Braff, voice), a winged monkey who has sworn his life to Oz, and an amazingly realistic looking China Doll (Joey King, voice), Oz meets witches, Munchkins, Winkies, Tinkers, flying baboons, and even a lion and some scarecrows. Oh my… (Sorry no tigers and bears in this one.)
The three witches, Evanora, Theodora and Glinda all at some point have their doubts about him being the legendary wizard. When the time comes for Oz to make a decision between escaping with countless amounts of treasure and saving the land with the same name as his own; Oz will have to choose between being “good” and “great” by staying and helping rescue the people who only he can help save, and escaping with the gold to pursue greatness in the world’s eyes.
The casting in Oz the Great and Powerful was well done. James Franco (Spiderman 1,2,3) plays Oscar Diggs (Oz). He performed the job of the con man / magician, all smooth and charming, turned powerful wizard very skillfully. Michelle Williams (Shutter Island) plays Glinda, the good witch. She was elegant, powerful and does a fantastic job throughout the movie. Mila Kunis (Black Swan, That 70s Show) plays Theodora, a young naïve witch, who just wants peace in the land. Mila does an incredible job of playing her role. Rachel Weisz (The Mummy, The Constant Gardener) plays the witch Evanora, Theodora’s older sister. She is a little sassy, fun to watch, and does a top-rate job. Both Zach Braff, the voice of Finley the winged monkey, and Joey King, the voice of the China Girl, did a tremendous job adding humor to the movie.
The CGI in the movie is fantastic and all the more impressive when seen in 3D. The movie dazzles the audience in the opening credits, in just how much depth there is to the picture. The Land of Oz is bursting with color. The flowers look as if you can almost touch them, including some made of emeralds and rubies that open as Oscar walks by them. The China Girl, a porcelain doll, is incredibly lifelike. There are bubble rides in the air, a fast-paced river ride in a hot air balloon basket, fantasy creatures of all sorts, fireballs, and lightning being thrown around for your visual enjoyment.
Only one minor negative, at one point I did feel like I was in the middle of watching Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. (Anybody who has ever seen Star Wars will understand when you see the movie.) So, I do wish that something more original had been conceived for that part of the movie. Other than that I thoroughly enjoyed getting to learn the back-story of how well… Oz goes to Oz.
Overall, Oz the Great and Powerful is a fantastic prequel to “The Wizard of Oz” that is filled with humor, morals, adventure and thrills. This movie is made for 3D, so go put your 3D glasses on and see it soon!
There are several frightening scenes that make this movie too scary for younger kids; including several jump scares from flying baboons, one from a lion, a scene in the dark forest and several scenes with The Wicked Witch herself. Some brief bad words are said in the midst of some of the scary scenes (D-2, G-1). There is some mild cleavage shown and a man and woman briefly kiss after a dance. Lastly, as Oz thinks he is going to die in the tornado, he yells up to Heaven and begs desperately for one last chance to live.
Overall, Oz the Great and Powerful is a clean, family film filled with morals about good, evil and how it can be deceiving. The story ultimately focuses on how choosing between what is right and wrong, selfish and selfless in the hardest of times can be difficult.
Oscar Diggs (Oz) wanted to be a great man someday, not just an ordinary good man. This con man knew he had shady ethics and morals, but was he willing to change his ways to become better? When asked if he was the Great Wizard of Oz he said, “Yes” for selfish intentions. Throughout the movie, he has doubts if he is this great wizard that everyone in Oz thinks he is. But when he sees that he is truly needed by the people of Oz, he has to make a decision. Thanks to his friends along the way, who believe in him and who show him the right path to take, he doesn’t have to make that decision alone.
Have you ever felt that you have done something so bad or lived a life that you feel you couldn’t possibly change or ask God for forgiveness? Or maybe you feel that you need to fix your life, become a better person, before getting “right” with God. I have some good news for you. Stop thinking that right now! The Bible says that we are all his children, created in His image (Genesis 1:27), and that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39)… NOTHING! If we ask, repent of our sins, no matter how small or big, and have faith in Him we will be forgiven! Instead of trying to fix things in your own life on your own, try going to the One who died for you on the cross, wiped those sins away and gave you a blank slate to start over again… Jesus.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Watch the trailer for Oz the Great and Powerful
To learn more about the film critic of this review check out April Kruger