“Oz the Great and Powerful” has opened to mostly good reviews and it seems fitting that a movie about Emerald City would be viewed by this Staten Island arts Examiner on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. If you can suspend belief and enjoy the fantasy then “Oz” is great movie fun. It seems only fitting that the movie about a great magician would be released by Walt Disney Pictures. According to The New York Times: “Near the middle of “Oz the Great and Powerful,” James Franco, who plays the title character, surveys his bewildering surroundings and mutters “Are you kidding me?”
The same can be said about most of this movie fantasy but the film should be appealing to families and moviegoers who remember watching “The Wizard of Oz” on television at home. Staten Island movie fans; this is a picture the whole family can enjoy.
“No movie studio would have the nerve to remake “The Wizard of Oz,” the beloved 1939 musical ranked by the Library of Congress as the most-watched film in history. But “Oz the Great and Powerful,” a Disney-produced prequel, is nearly as intrepid,” added The Times. “The company is betting that a new twist on a story moviegoers already love will result in a hit on par with “Alice in Wonderland,” which took in more than $1 billion in 2010.”
“It’s a breathtaking gamble. “Oz,” at turns goofy and dark (and not a musical), cost about $325 million to make and market, according to people who worked on the movie who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid conflict with Disney,” stated The Times in its article. “Mr. Franco has never anchored a mainstream movie before. Because of copyright constraints Disney was not able to reproduce certain iconic imagery from the “The Wizard of Oz,” which is owned by Warner Brothers.”And audiences have already rallied around a “Wizard of Oz” prequel: “Wicked” has been a Broadway hit for nearly 10 years, according to the newspaper.
Oz has big shoes to fill
“Disney’s marketers have not been cowed by the huge shadow cast by the original “Oz” — indeed, their ads for the new film invite comparisons to the classic,” states The Times. “But the popularity of the original may ultimately represent the studio’s biggest challenge. Is there room for a new cinematic vision of Oz, as Disney believes? Or will movie audiences (and critics) be reluctant to embrace an Oz that does not look a certain way, have a certain tone and feature a certain set of slippers? “
“But nostalgic properties are tricky. There are liberties you can take and ones you cannot, producers say, and the lines are blurry.” adds the newspaper. “Sean Bailey, Disney’s president of movie production, said in an interview that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the box-office prospects for “Oz the Great and Powerful,” which was loosely based on the novels of L. Frank Baum."
“Going in, we certainly talked a lot about these iconic books, the iconic movie and the iconic musical,” Mr. Bailey said to The Times. “We felt there was room for a new story. We felt this great land was worthy of exploration and that it could be creatively exciting.”
“Disney is betting that going big is the key to a turnaround — hiring marquee directors and stars with serious acting credentials for pictures with giant budgets,” adds The Times. “After “Oz” comes “The Lone Ranger,” a comedic Western starring Johnny Depp as Tonto. In July 2014 Disney plans to release “Maleficent,” starring Angelina Jolie as the evil sorceress from “Sleeping Beauty.”
“For “Oz the Great and Powerful,” directed by Sam Raimi, Batman offers one positive point of comparison; that character, which coincidentally first appeared in a 1939 comic book, has been successfully reincarnated at the multiplex for several generations, noted Bob Gazzale, president of the American Film Institute to The Times.
“Yes, there is definitely room for Disney’s version of Oz, without question,” Mr. Gazzale said to The Times. “But upon learning about the absence of Dorothy’s famous footwear (Warner holds the copyright), he grew more tentative. “Wait, hold everything — there are no ruby slippers?” he said. “Disney didn’t tell me that in the trailer.”
Good critical response to “Oz”
“Reviews have only started to trickle in, but so far the critical response has been fairly warm. Two actresses who play witches — Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz — have been received with particular enthusiasm,” adds The Times.“Creativity by analogy is something that studios do a lot, and sometimes it’s a scary thing,” he said to The Times. “We just felt this was a good idea."
“No movie studio would have the nerve to remake “The Wizard of Oz,” the beloved 1939 musical ranked by the Library of Congress as the most-watched film in history. But “Oz the Great and Powerful,” a Disney-produced prequel, is nearly as intrepid,” stressed The Times.
“The goal is to keep the audience reaction from mirroring the movie’s story line. Mr. Franco’s circus magician, a selfish cad, is sucked via tornado to Oz, where the residents mistake him for a wizard who will free them from the wicked witches. But he starts to wither under the expectations,” adds The Times. “I’m just not the man you wanted me to be,” he (Franco) says in the film. A lot can be said about the film. It is more interesting than I thought it would be and a little more fun than I expected. Perhaps the studio that was founded on movie magic, Walt Disney Pictures, may have found the right vehicle and story to pull in a new generation of filmgoers.
Showtimes on Staten Island
“Oz The Great and Powerful” is now playing at Atrium Stadium Cinemas at 680 Arthur Kill Road, Staten Island at 12:00 1:00 2:45 3:45 5:30 6:30 8:15 and 9:15 p.m. and at UA Hylan Plaza 5 at 107 Mill Road, Staten Island at 12:00, 3:00, and 6:30 p.m.. Additional theatres include UA All Staten Island Stadium 16 Theatre at 2474 Forest Avenue, Staten Island at 12:00 3:00 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
The 3D film version is playing at Atrium Stadium Cinemas at 680 Arthur Kill Road, Staten Island at 2:00 4:45 7:30pm, UA Hylan Plaza 5 at 107 Mill Road, Staten Island at 1:30 4:30 7:30 p.m. and at UA All Staten Island Stadium 16 Theatre at 2474 Forest Avenue, Staten Island at 11:30am 12:30 1:30 2:30 3:30 4:30 5:30 6:30 7:30 8:30 9:30 10:30pm.