Oscar "The Great and Powerful Oz" Diggs (James Franco) is a con man / magician in a traveling circus. He longs to be more than a good man and dreams of life beyond the circus. When his hot air balloon is sucked into a tornado, he is transported from the monochromatic Kansas to the colorful land of Oz.
The people of Oz believe is the powerful wizard from their prophecies. Not everyone is convinced and soon he is swept into the problems of Oz by three powerful witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and Glinda (Michelle Williams). Can he use become the man the land needs?
The film uses the characters from L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz” series to tell the story of how the wizard arrived in Oz. The witches do have Baum’s original names, or the names from Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked,” the film borrows more from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. Like The Wizard of Oz, Kansas is sepia toned, while Oz is colorful.
The film captures your attention from the beginning, with an imaginative title sequence, and holds your attention until the curtain literally falls during the closing credits. It is visually impressive and action packed.
The cast is entertaining and disappear into their roles. Franco plays to the balconies as the wizard, doing justice to the larger than life character. Kunis, Weisz and Williams are bewitching as the witches and make each character come to life, even as they change. Zach Braff adds humor as Finley the flying monkey, and Joey King is irresistible as the China Girl. The Wicked Witch of the West makes an appearance in all her green glory, but is never called by that name. Don’t read spoilers about her identity, wait and find out in theaters.
Disney Studios had enough faith in this film to greenlight a sequel.
Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) 130 minutes
Director: Sam Raimi