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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Comedy > Adventure > Prequel > Literature > Oz: The Great and Powerful 3D (2013/Disney Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray 2D (not included on the 3D set) & DVD; Two releases)

Oz: The Great and Powerful 3D (2013/Disney 3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray 2D (not included on the 3D set) & DVD; Two releases)

 

3D Picture: A-     2D Picture: B/B-      Sound: A-/A-/B-     Extras: B     Film: B

 

With the plethora of L. Frank Baum ‘Wizard of Oz’ material out there it was only a matter of time before someone was willing to touch that sacred material.  Victor Fleming’s classic 1939 Wizard of Oz film has made the source material nearly untouchable for the last 70 years.  Yes there have been TV adaptations, animated films, the cult classic Return to Oz, and even The Wiz; but nothing could come close to the beloved 1939 classic.

 

Disney studios set out to change that in 2013 with Oz: The Great and Powerful and to some degree they did.  The worst thing a studio could have done would have been to do a remake of the 1939 Oz, but thankfully Disney steered clear of that mishap.  Instead, they made a prequel of sorts based on elements of all of Baum’s novels; while concurrently harkening back to the 1939 classic.

 

This prequel (there have been more than a few before) film, stars James Franco as Oscar Diggs (the swindling circus magician) as he travels from our world to the wonderful world of Oz in a (what else?!) tornado.  Once there he happens upon a host of interesting characters; some to aid him on his journey, whereas others wish to destroy him.  Oscar is a cold, slick shyster who cares only for himself, but as this is a Disney film we will watch him change overtime; learning from the past, with some help from those around him.  Mila Kunis is a witch as is Rachel Weisz, both with very different views of the world and ambitions.  Then there are the people of Oz, who range from China Dolls to talking (flying) monkeys.  Collectively being quite interesting, though not always so original.

 

I had high hopes for Oz: The Great and Powerful and whereas far from a total disappoint, I can say I was left wanting.  I wanted more of the magic, whimsy, and life that the original had; but instead I was treated more so to a big studio blockbuster that alluded to the original.  For obvious copyright reasons Disney (Director Sam Raimi) could not use many elements from the original film as those were studio owned and NOT in the original Baum novel.  To get around that we find Raimi using the elements he could from the novel and tiptoeing around loose interpretations of the original 1939 film.  For example, once the wicked witch appears she is green (closely resembling the older film), Glenda is in her bubble, all three characters [Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow] make slick appearances (be on the lookout), the Emerald City is actually emerald, and so on.  There were many elements to this film, which were creative and unique; but it is inescapable that the film banked heavily on the nostalgia from the 1939 film.  Attempting to live up to a classic is a huge task and whereas Raimi had no intention of outdoing Victor Fleming’s venture into Oz, he inevitably couldn’t make his own mark on Oz without being tainted by the past.

 

I think the film was fun, full of action, and did elicit feelings of nostalgia that made for an overall enjoyable experience.   The acting of James Franco, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis, and Michelle Williams was OUTSTANDING.  Their acting chops lent to the film very well, taking it to the next level.  I think the film is worth a look at the very least and may even make some hardcore fans. Still my personal favorite is Return to Oz, but perhaps that is just me…

 

Whereas not every film must be in 3D, I found this film particularly pleasing in the 3D format.  The film even pays homage to the original film by starting in a 1.33 X 1 ratio black and white presentation (meant to mirror the 1939 film, though that was in sepia-tone, some cheaper prints were black and white), before widening to a 2.35 X 1 Widescreen.  The 3D does feel forced at times (remember Raimi is a horror film director after all) as we get plenty of sudden, surprises bursting from the screen, but for the most part I enjoyed it.  The colors are bright, with a crisp, clean clear image that demonstrates solid black levels with many issues.  The film (though was it intended?) does seem too crystal clear at times and I would have preferred more depth and range with the image.  The 1080p 2D digital High Definition image transfer is not as great, even if the 3D is not as 3D as it could be.  As a matter of fact, the film is on the flat side in 2D, so unless you see it 3D, it just does not work as well even when it is trying its best digitally to imitate the dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor of the 1939 version of the film which itself will be coming out in 3D later in 2013 via the 8K scans recently done of its for its restoration.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD version is passable at best, but far from the way to be introduced to the film.

 

The sound is a DTS_HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless Surround track that is very well done as it uses the full speaker range.  The musical scores bring life/suspense to every scene and the dialogue projects succinctly without distortion.  The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD version is no match for the DTS, as expected and can even seem strained at times.

 

Extras include Digital Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes-able devices, while the Digital Copy Plus accessible features (none of this is on any of the discs!) includes 5 minutes of Bloopers and six featurette clips: Metamorphosis, Walt Disney & The Road To Oz, ‘My Journey To Oz’ by James Franco, China Girl & The Suspension Of Disbelief, Mr. Elfman’s Musical Connections and Before Your Very Eyes: Form Kansas To Oz.

 

 

-   Michael P. Dougherty II & Nicholas Sheffo


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