For a diehard fan of the 1939 classic ‘Wizard of Oz,’ hearing about the release of Disney's ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ can put an uncertain feeling in one’s mind at first. On one hand, since ‘Wizard of Oz’ is timeless, it is necessary to keep it in the spotlight. On another hand, when classics are tampered with both as a prequel or sequel, the result is often nothing short of a failure.
However, ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ seems completely worthy of meeting and exceeding the expectations of a viewer, whether they were an “Oz-ite” prior to it recently being “cool” or not. There is a reason as to why it is currently the #1 movie in the world. In fact, it is reasonable to believe that L. Frank Baum himself just may be impressed if he were here to see it, though we of course cannot speak for him.
It is first important for ‘Wizard of Oz-ites’ to realize that ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ is designed to be a prequel to the original. Do not expect to see Dorothy, or her beloved friends that she meets on the “Yellow Brick Road.” However, a lion does appear in the prequel at one point for a few seconds.
The prequel instead focuses on Oz’s journey and the backstory that led up to Dorothy without actually taking us all of the way there. Oscar Diggs (“Oz”) portrayed by James Franco, is a circus magician and a conman. He’s selfish, he’s egotistical, and he's dishonest, yet he's charming, and that is probably precisely why all of the ladies automatically fall head over heels in love with him, despite his failure to commit.
Nonetheless, a tornado (as we see in the original) throws Oz into Emerald City where he must defeat an evil witch to become king.
Some original characters that also appear in the film are the flying monkeys, munchkins, the wicked witches, and Glinda the Good Witch. The Yellow Brick Road also returns, and Emerald City takes on a similar look to the 1939 hit. The crystal ball and the poppys are back as well, along with the familiar hot air balloon.
Quite notably, we see an interesting backstory on what led the wicked witch to becoming the evil character that she became.
Like ‘Wizard of Oz’ there is a transition from black and white to vivid color, which is equally as fascinating as the one we all know and love. The flowers look heavenly, and the scenic views are breathtaking. Much applause goes to the crew for making this overall presentation believable to the eye.
‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ has the ‘power’ to appeal to children and adults alike. It combines romance, humor, “changing one's ways,” the battle between good and evil, likeable characters, convincing acting, and commendable special effects. The intricate details undoubtedly deserve a “thumbs up.” It has the ability to keep movie-goers at the edge of their seats, and cringing in suspense.
The plot locks viewers in, there are subtle messages that can applied to “real life,” and it was just simply very well done. This dedicated Oz-ite was ready to buy the DVD five minutes into it's introduction. However, for right now, going a second time, and watching it in 3D that time around, will have to suffice. Needless to say, 5 stars for 'Oz the Great and Powerful' that has lived up to it's name. Take your kids, take your dates, take your friends, and allow yourself to be swept away to Kansas for a couple hours.