Disney’s fantastical adventure “Oz The Great and Powerful,” directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved wizard character. 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, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great wizard but into a better man as well.
“Oz The Great and Powerful” is produced by Joe Roth, with screen story by Mitchell Kapner and screenplay by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire. Grant Curtis, Palak Patel, Josh Donen and Philip Steuer are serving as executive producers. “Oz The Great and Powerful” opens in U.S. theaters on March 8, 2013.
I went into this screening with low expectations. I had fallen in love with the Wicked book series, of which there are 4 installments, and loved the back story there.
This movie is all about the Wizard, which is far different from the books, they are all about the Wicked Witch of the West and her progeny. Within seconds I had completely forgotten the books, within minutes this movie transported me back to Kansas, watching the beginning of the Wizard’s story I was instantly hooked.
The most important part of this movie for me was seeing how faithful it could be to the classic, “The Wizard of Oz” movie from 1939. Memories flooded back to me from the original movie, that is how familiar the whole experience felt. It was wonderful, it completely did the original justice, the back story of how the Wizard came to Oz, and how he established himself there, were spot on.
And I cried. I had seen this trailer:
But Seeing Glinda in her bubble on the big screen affected me more, it brought me back to Billie Burke entering Munchkinland. I teared up at the memory! I have seen that scene dozens of times. Seeing Director Sam Raimi’s vision of Michelle Williams’s Glinda in her preferred mode of transportation helped these wonderful memories of the original movie sweep over me.
And Mila Kunis. Wow. She is the young Margaret Hamilton, I mean the young Wicked Witch of the West. And we get to see how that happened. Again, the back story coverage for all of these beloved and not so beloved, characters was perfect.
James Franco’s portrayal of the man from Kansas, and then the Wizard of Oz, was amazing. Maybe because it was 3D and I was in the 3rd row, but he was the perfect con man, and he was not in denial, and I got to look at that handsome face up close! I have not seen a lot of his movies and had no opinion of his acting style before this movie. He was perfect.
Lastly, the 3D for this movie was the best I have ever seen. My spouse and I usually come out of a 3D movie and wonder why they even bothered to do 3D. Granted, that is usually with cartoons that we are taking my son to, but I can’t wait to see their reactions to the action of the 3D in this movie. I jumped several times!
The original Wizard of Oz movie is a classic that many of us have seen at least once a year for decades. I grew up with it, and then had the chance to see it as a parent; in total, dozens of time. The writers and director knew that this would be a big part of the new movies audience, I was thrilled to see how well they stayed true to the original movie characterizations. I went in to the theater thinking that might be too daunting a task. I was shocked at how well they incorporated the story lines we grew up with into this back story, retold from the viewpoint of the Wizard. And I am not minimizing the story here by referring to it as the Wizard’s “back story,” it is original and captivating on its own, without having seen the original. The familiarity, the explanations, the details, all made for a wonderful journey back to the Land of Oz for me!
I hope to go back this weekend with my spouse and son to see this movie. I can’t wait to introduce them to this superb movie, and I can’t wait to see it again!
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Disclosure: I received a ticket to preview the movie. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.