There have been plenty of takes on L. Frank Baum’s classic Oz books, with many of them taking place before, during and after The Wizard of Oz. Now director Sam Raimi of Evil Dead and Spider-Man fame gives us his wonderful take on what happened before the great wizard came to be in Disney’s Oz The Great and Powerful, now available on Blu-ray. With a wonderful story, a great cast and amazing special effects made even better in high resolution 3D, this is one film that will make you glad you went off to see the wizard.
For those who may have missed it the first time around, here’s a snippet on some of the plot details from fellow reviewer Chris Pandolfi from his theatrical review of the film. And for those who wish to read it in its entirety can do so HERE:
“The film is essentially the story of how the great and powerful Wizard of Oz came to be. He started as Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a con man and magician who lived a meager existence as a carnival sideshow act – and appropriately enough, his stage name was Oz. During a stop in Kansas in 1905, he escapes from a vengeful muscle man via a hot air balloon; the balloon is promptly sucked into the vortex of a tornado, which magically transports him to the land of Oz, a breathtaking fantasy world. He soon meets a young witch named Theodora (Mila Kunis), who believes Diggs to be the wizard prophesized to save Oz from the Wicked Witch, who killed the King of the Emerald City. Diggs plays along, albeit for selfish reasons, and is soon introduced to Theodora’s sister, Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and the slain King’s daughter, the Good Witch Glinda (Michelle Williams). Glinda can see right through Diggs, but being a bit of a showman herself, she understands that the good people of Oz need to believe that their wizard is real.”
I’ll admit I was a little skeptical about a prequel Oz film coming out by Sam Raimi and starring James Franco of all people, but I’m glad I was proven wrong here. I enjoyed this film and seeing all of the cool things added to it, such as the China Girl doll who seems to steal the show here. The well written story and cast also do a great job making you feel as though you really are watching something magic. And seeing this magic come alive in 3D on Blu-ray is something special in itself. From the opening titles that throw plenty of neat 3D tricks at you, to the amazing depth the effects add to everything on screen, they are used really well here and don’t come off as gimmicky like most 3D features do. The audio is just as great, making sure every line and sound comes through perfectly.
There’s also plenty of magic to be had after the movie ends, as the special features are sure to keep viewers busy. I found the five minutes of “Bloopers” to be fun, as I always love seeing bloopers and outtakes from films. “Walt Disney and the Road to Oz” gives an interesting story of why Walt Disney himself avoided making anything based off the famed books during his lifetime. Actor James Franco made a personal video diary while filming the movie called “James Franco: My Journey in Oz” where he interviews some of the cast and crew on set. “China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief” goes into how actress Joey King and some of the effects team brought the lovely doll character to life in both pre and post-production. Famed music composer Danny Elfman talks about what inspired him and how he came to make the musical score for the film in “Mr. Elfman’s Musical Concoctions”. There’s also a few more behind the scenes featurettes and more for viewers to check out here.
Featuring a great story, wonderful acting and amazing special effects, Oz The Great and Powerful is a lovely take on the world of Oz. Fans of the books and media will enjoy this while those learning about the magical land for the first time are sure to find something to like. A major blockbuster after its theatrical debut, there’s enough bonus features to keep even the most Oz-crazed fan happy, and when you add in the awesome high-definition visuals brought to life with amazing 3D effects, you’ve got a disc you’ll want you and your family to go off and see the wizard with.
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Walt Disney Pictures