Friday, June 21, 2013

Oz The Great And Powerful...

Somewhere, over the rainbow....wait...what's a rainbow? It's been so long since we've had rain in Arizona, that we've forgotten what a rainbow looks like. Well, that was until we watched the newest classic, Disney Oz The Great And Powerful! 

Let me start this by saying that I'm not what you'd call a HUGE fan of The Wizard Of Oz. I certainly like the story sure, and of course, unlike my darling wife Joyce, I'VE seen the original 1939 film starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley. A few times in fact. And even though it IS a musical, I like it. I remember as a kid, it would air on TV every year around Christmas time...Just wouldn't place it on my top-ten list. So, when we heard that Disney was making a "prequel" to the original, we weren't exactly Avengers excited about seeing it. And when it came out at the theaters, we didn't rush to the box office to purchase our tickets. But, recently we were given a copy of the Blu Ray to review and we were pleasantly surprised! 

First off, if you're a fan of the 1939 original and are expecting something along those lines, you're in for a disappointment. Although it does share a lot of theming as the original, and there are a LOT of shout-outs to the original, it's not exactly as "sugar coated" as Dorothy's Oz. And (thankfully for me) it's NOT a musical! And it is a bit of a darker story.


Ok, so the story of Oz The Great And Powerful is sort of an origins story (for you comic book fans out there). It starts, as the original did, in black and white, which we found pretty cool. And there is one more aspect to the opening sequences of this film that change once our "hero" finds his way to the Land Of Oz. I'll let you figure that one out for yourselves...but trust me, it's cool. Anyway, Oz starts by introducing us to Oscar Diggs (played by James Franco), a small time circus magician with, well, questionable ethics. After an altercation with the boyfriend of one of Oscar's "conquests", Oscar (or OZ as he prefers to be called) escapes via hot air balloon and heads directly in to a...TORNADO! A mysterious one at that. As his balloon plummets into the twister, Oz is hurled away from dusty black and white Kansas (a shout out to the original) to the Land of Oz - ablaze with vibrant and beautiful colors and landscapes. Of course, he figures he's hit the one knows him here, so he can do as he pleases. Then...he meets three witches: Theodora (played by Mila Kunis); Evanora (played by Rachael Weisz) and Glinda (played by Michelle Williams). Turns out that there's a prophecy in Oz that a great and powerful wizard (no, NOT Harry Potter) will arrive and assume the throne of king, and defeat the evil witch that is currently making everyone's life less than wonderful. Now, without going into a lot of spoilers, suffice it to say that not everything is as it seems in Oz. 
The Emerald City in the Land Of Oz

Reluctantly drawn in to a battle between good and evil, Oz encounters many interesting and awesome characters in the Land of Oz, including a talking monkey (voiced by Zach Braff)! With the help of his faithful companion (you know, the monkey), Oz must figure out just exactly WHO is good and who is evil before time runs out. By putting his circus magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity and even a bit of "real" wizardry, Oz transforms himself not only into the great wizard the Land of Oz needs, but a better man as well. 

Now, I must admit, I did have some issues with this movie. Not many, but a few. Mainly with the actual look of the film. When Oscar arrives in Oz, there are of course many "gimmicks" the filmmakers put in the movie to highlight the 3D aspect of the film (it is also a 3D adventure), and these are painfully apparent. In fact, I found myself recalling the 3D movies of the early 1980's, when they'd have the actors shove things into the camera to "shock" the audience by the "awesome realness". Also, the actual look of the Oz scenes felt very artificial to me. I know, it's a movie but still...they almost looked cartoony. Unlike Alice In Wonderland, it was a little too artificial looking to me, almost like the filmmakers wanted to impress upon us that this isn't a real land at all. And that kind of disappointed me. The 1939 Wizard Of Oz used real sets which gave a realism to the movie. In Oz The Great And Powerful everything moment drove home the fact that CGI is here forever! However, these are just nit picks. Overall, the movie is terrific!

James Franco isn't the most obvious choice to play Oz, but shortly after the film begins, it's easy to understand why they chose him. He really is perfect for this role. And believe me, I'm NOT a fan of Mila Kunis, something about her annoys me a lot BUT she did an over the top awesome job as Theodora, and once she transformed into the Wicked, PERFECT. The voice, the cackle..everything. Just perfect for the role! 

Mila Kunis as Theodora...

...And the Wicked Witch of the West!

As usual, Zach Braff is spot on as the wise cracking monkey Finley. 
Zach Braff voices Finley

Oz The Great And Powerful has many fun bonus features, including 
  • The Magic of "Oz The Great And Powerful", an immersive Second Screen experience that details all things Oz.
  • My Journey in Oz by James Franco - A personal story produced and directed by Oz himself, James Franco
  • Mr. Elfman's Musical Concoctions - An interview with composer extraordinaire Danny Elfman
  • China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief - Uncloaking the forms of movie magic employed to bring the character China Girl to life
  • Mila's Metamorphosis - Transforming actress Mila Kunis into....The Wicked Witch of the WEST!
  • Walt Disney And The Road To Oz - A truly wonderful documentary highlighting Walt Disney's fascination with the Land Of Oz since childhood, and his quest to bring this story to life - including a failed attempt at an early live action version! 
  • And BLOOPERS!! - These are truly awesome!
Oz The Great And Powerful is now available on:
  • Blu Ray 3D+Digital Copy which includes all of the bonus features. MSRP $44.99
  • Blu Ray+DVD+Digital Copy which includes all of the bonus features. MSRP $44.99
  • Blu Ray+Digital Copy which also includes all of the bonus features. MSPR $39.99
  • DVD+Digital Copy which includes bonus features bloopers and Walt Disney and the Road To Oz. MSPR $29.99
Follow The Yellow Brick Road!

You can find Oz The Great And Powerful just about anywhere, however, if you'd like to get a great deal on your purchase, and would like to help the Tales From The Mouse House cause...visit our Amazon Store: Tales From The Mouse House Amazon Store we'd be grateful if you did!

Running time for the movie is 130 minutes. Although we're not disappointed that we did not see this in theaters, we are glad to have seen it. It is without doubt, destined to be another Disney classic, and a must have for any Disney lovers movie collection. So, we give Disney's Oz The Great And Powerful 4 out of 5 Dumbos! (yeah, that's good). - Al


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