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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
James Franco
Mila Kunis
Rachel Weisz
Michelle Williams
Zach Braff.
Directors
Sam Raimi.
Screenwriters
David Lindsay-Abaire.
Running Time
130 minutes

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Oz The Great and Powerful
Hello, yellow brick road


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Plot
1905. Carny magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is transported from Kansas to the Land of Oz, where he is taken for the wizard who is prophesied to save the realm from a wicked witch. The sisters Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Theodora (Mila Kunis) send him on a deadly quest which brings him into contact with Glinda the Good (Michelle Williams), flying monkeys, a china doll and oppressed Munchkins.


Review
Oz The Great and Powerful
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Though officially based on L. Frank Baum’s multi-volume Oz series of books, this big fantasy is essentially a prequel to the famous 1939 film of The Wizard Of Oz, which made several significant changes to Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. A generation ago, Disney made Return To Oz, a darker sequel which drew on Baum’s other works but found it hard to escape from the shadow of Over The Rainbow, Judy Garland and the ruby slippers. Now, Sam Raimi’s expansive take on Oz has to jostle for attention not only with earlier film versions (remember The Wiz and The Muppets’ Wizard Of Oz?) but Gregory Maguire’s outstanding novel Wicked and it hugely successful stage musical adaptation, which similarly explore pre-Dorothy Oz but concentrate on the early days of another key player in Emerald City politics.

We start in a mode which can’t help but recall Victor Fleming’s 1939 opening, in black-and-white academy frame 3D with Oscar (James Franco), a smarmy philandering conjurer billed as ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’, griping about his lowly tent show career when he wants to be a combination of Harry Houdini and Thomas Edison. Fleeing angry carnies, he is swept off to Oz in a hot-air ballon via twister… whereupon gorgeous, CGI-assisted colours blossom and the screen expands panoramically. Sam Raimi, who has been playing with Oz imagery ever since the animated evil trees of The Evil Dead, is among the few filmmakers who see 3D as a liberation rather than a commercially-mandatory inconvenience. This matches Dredd in its inventive, impressive use of the third dimension to give its world depth, texture and added wondrousness. Unlike most wussy contemporary directors of 3D films – you know, the guys who make films about hammer-throwing heroes but omit to chuck Mjolnir at the camera even once - he understands 1950s dimensional showmanship and takes care to throw spears, piranha-plant tendrils and other items at the centre stalls with infectious glee.

Given that we know how this story must end up, with the man behind the curtain and good and bad witches at the appropriate compass points of Oz, there’s still an interesting arc to be had. The protagonist changes from a greedy, shallow, cowardly conman who is as near a sex addict as it’s possible to be in a PG film into an arrant fraud who nevertheless is a half-way fit ruler of the land whose name he shares. Franco’s grin and charm help a potentially hateful character skate by, as the would-be wizard discovers an urge to live up to the trust put in him by his naive companions – new to this story are a sympathetic flying monkey (voiced by Zach Braff) and an adorable orphan china doll (voiced by Joey King) – and starts playing Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court steampunk games to match the witches’ magic with technological know-how and bamboozling showmanship. It may be that this is the ultimate Hollywood wish-fulfilment fantasy, even beyond Argo: here, the world is saved by a special effects artist, not a singing farmgirl with a bucket.

Producer Joe Roth was recently involved in Snow White And The Huntsman and Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, which both rebooted much-told tales by turning them into remakes of The Wizard of Oz in which a feisty outsider girl and her companions defeat a witch queen and overthrow a corrupt regime. Here, we get an interesting array of wonderful witches, from the elegantly fiendish, green-gowned Rachel Weisz, an Oz witch incarnated as a Disney cartoon villainess, to the glowingly virtuous all-in-white Michelle Williams, all-powerful but oddly passive. But, yet again, Mila Kunis walks away with the honours as the wavering witch Theodora, whose heartbreak brings another, less-expected depth to this 3D spectacle, and who gets to lend some old Raimi-style chill (is this his Drag Me To Oz mode?) to several bone-scraping lines ("I’m not wicked" and a truly splendid cry of "Never").


Verdict
If there are post-Harry Potter children who don’t know or care about The Wizard Of Oz, they might be at sea with this story about a not-very-nice grownup in a magic land, but long-term Oz watchers will be enchanted and enthralled. There’s even a musical number, albeit an abbreviated one. Mila Kunis gets a gold star for excellence in bewitchery and Sam Raimi can settle securely behind the curtain as a mature master of illusion.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Oz The Great and Powerful
Empire Star Rating

AMAZBALLS

omg it had me on my toes the whole way. Amazing just wow bbz go and see it because it is just phenomenal. OMFG ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by LoveManlyBruce at 06:54, 31 May 2013 | Report This Post


Suprisingly Good!!

A Unofficial Preequal to the Wizard Of Oz / A Reimagining of the Original. Well Sam Raimi has his work cut out doesn't he? The good news he has a strong cast, a excellent budget and a good lawyer team who argued that without a wart and a darker shade of green means that Mila Kunis looks nothing like the original Wicked Witch of the West. The Story is good and the setting up of a sequal is the norm in Hollywood Cinema so I think we are on to a winner. Might not be everyones cup of tea, but its g... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DanielTurner90 at 22:10, 07 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Four stars? REALLY?

I would have thought Johnny Galecki from Big Bang Theory would have made a good Wizard of Oz in his younger days, but he's not a movie star yet. Frankly, I would use the entire cast of that show in a movie like this. you can see Sheldon as some smart alecky type gatekeeper who refuses to cooperate. ... More

Posted by Professor Dent at 12:39, 26 April 2013 | Report This Post


Four stars? REALLY?

Most of the time I agree with Empire's reviews, but once in a while one of them is so off the mark, in my opinion. This is one of them. The film has one of the cheesiest scripts in years, full of lines that make you groan. Franco is miserably miscast and hams it up at every opportunity. No way he grows into the old wizard in The Wizard of Oz. This film has none of the charm or the magic of the original. Even the 3D made us groan at times for being total clichés. Of course the film "l... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Smokingjas at 10:10, 16 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oz: The Great and Powerful

Found the film a bit dull to be honest and my wife who'd wanted to see it for months came away from very disappointed. ... More

Posted by fozzie12 at 01:23, 10 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oz: The Great and Powerful

Saw this lat night, and while I don't see it as a four star film, it is certainly a solid three stars The obvious problem the film has is a certain musical made about seventy years or so ago. If you forget about that and treat this one on its own merits its entertaining, has a great climax, and some solid performances from the leads. What's not to like? Unlikely to be a sequel however. ... More

Posted by GCH at 19:36, 04 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oz: The Great and Powerful

At the very start of the 20th century, author L. Frank Baum started a series of children’s fantasy novels starting with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz which follows the adventures of Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto traveling through the Land of Oz. For over a century that this book has been adapted into several different works, the most famous being the 1939 musical The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland. This year, Disney and Evil Dead/Spider-Man auteur Sam Raimi tells the prequel story of how the ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 16:25, 04 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oz: The Great and Powerful

he Great and Powerful (2013) WARNING! presume this film must be made up of various bits n bobs from Baum's sequel books as I don't believe there was a prequel story/book written. All his stories were set after the original 'Wizard of Oz' so I'm guessing this must be a lot of artistic license?. Back to Oz we go, for the third time, question is, is this adventure as good as the previous two?. The first is a silver screen classic, the second was a dark but highly imaginative twist with sup... More

Posted by Phubbs at 07:31, 03 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Just barely okay

L: Whistler L: Lisamoviegeek Is this worth watching in theaters or should I wait for the DVD release? seem to be alone here, but yeah, I think you should go see it. did, and I thought it was wonderful. The monkey was adorable! ... More

Posted by Lisamoviegeek at 23:37, 31 March 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Mila Kunis, horribly miscast, Just awful as the wicked witch

L: Jamie_M Good work by Michelle Williams though. she portrayed a younger version of Billie Burkes character Glinda, absolutely perfectly. es Franco gets lead roles, ill never know. My thoughts excatly. I go along with the mojority view that this was a pretty solid 3 out of 5 stars film. As for the script at times it did feel a bit ropey, and some of the lines were very cliched, however there were some entertaining gags in there and the characters on the whole were prett... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 09:46, 28 March 2013 | Report This Post


*shrugs*

Joey King's China Girl injects more personality and emotion than the rest of the film combined, and I spent more time noticing camera-shots from Sam Raimi's Evil Dead films and comparing the fight scenes to Star Wars and Harry Potter than I did trying to link Oz to its classic predecessor. It's not all bad, it's just not great, and it's certainly not powerful. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 16:31, 27 March 2013 | Report This Post


Watched it on tuesday: Watched on tuesday: tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt1623205/?ref_=fn_ al_tt_4]Oz The Great and Powerfulam Raimi`s prequel to the classic. It`s a Disney film wich makes it all so safe and predictable storywise. But as a whole I found it very enjoyable. There are a number of (subtle and not so subtle) hints to the original. The begin is black-and-white and turns to colour after a while, as does the original and there are characters in it that were also in the original (so... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 21:10, 21 March 2013 | Report This Post


Oz the great & powerful

Oz the great & powerful(2013): Hail Sam Raimi's relentless efforts, 'Oz the Great and Powerful ' is an acceptable prequel than a sleeky visual divertissement. Detailed Review Here: http://www.filmwaves.in/2013/03/oz-great-powerful.html ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ajm1991 at 18:16, 21 March 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oz: The Great and Powerful

Enjoyable film...well worth a look in 3D...Only problem, and its a large one, is as the film progressed, it got worse.....lame duck ending,,,saved by the fact that at least it was an ending of sorts & not a pause in a trilogy....the character you connect with most is the doll....as was pointed out earlier, the witches weren't that bad...ho hum.. ... More

Posted by No Diggity at 16:17, 19 March 2013 | Report This Post


Mila Kunis, horribly miscast, Just awful as the wicked witch

Good work by Michelle Williams though. she portrayed a younger version of Billie Burkes character Glinda, absolutely perfectly. How James Franco gets lead roles, ill never know. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jamie_M at 09:25, 18 March 2013 | Report This Post


It had a very promising start with a few good jokes and a bit of fun. Though it was a nice idea, having the part of the story set in Kansas done on a small black and white screen was really very annoying. It was visually stunning, however the acting was appalling, Mila Kunis was terrible as Theodora and even worse when it came to being the wicked witch, I could not take the idea of a screaming Meg out of my head. Michelle Williams was quite frankly bland, and while Rachel Weisz and James Franco ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cruzo13 at 23:10, 16 March 2013 | Report This Post


QUITE DAZZLING!!

A pretty dazzling return to the Land of Oz!! Director Sam Riami takes the directorial riegns in this entertaining re-invisioning of the Wizard of Oz. Instead of Dorothy we have hoaxer majician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) who get's whisked away from his circus act in 1905 to the colourful and majical Land of Oz.... Here Riami le's loose with some suberb 3D visuals,..he wastes no time in lavshing the screen with vivid colours, details and richly designed scenery to really emmerse us int... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ramone87 at 15:46, 16 March 2013 | Report This Post


DO WE REALLY NEED ANOTHER OZ FILM?

Worth a look for the sheer technical brilliance on display. But I would have preferred original choice RDJ rather than Franco to play the title role and to be honest, the whole thing seems rather superfluous when compared to the classic 1939 film. I saw it in 2D but I imagine it would be more spectacular in 3D if you don't mind shelling out extra. Raimi's Spiderman films are still pretty good (even 3 - if you get rid of Venom). This film is merely watchable if there's nothing else on .......THRE... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 15:04, 16 March 2013 | Report This Post


DO WE REALLY NEED ANOTHER OZ FILM?

Worth a look for the sheer technical brilliance on display. But I would have preferred original choice RDJ rather than Franco to play the title role and to be honest, the whole thing seems rather superfluous when compared to the classic 1939 film. I saw it in 2D but I imagine it would be more spectacular in 3D if you don't mind shelling out extra. Raimi's Spiderman films are still pretty good (even 3 - if you get rid of Venom). This film is merely watchable if there's nothing else on .......THRE... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 15:03, 16 March 2013 | Report This Post


Oz: The Great and Powerful review and critique

As a fan of the original, I was very excited for a new Oz movie. Both Sam Raimi and James Franco seem like left field choices for me as the director and star of Oz: The Great and Powerful, but they both deliver on expectations and so much more through their own personal weird cameras. When Franco first enters Oz it is a magical adventure with a slightly cartoonish feel, a world of china dolls and pixies with sharp teeth. And the adventure doesn't slow down for a moment, mixing all the right ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by My Dream Tank at 21:10, 15 March 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Just barely okay

Wait for the DVD - and never watch it...... ... More

Posted by chubs at 23:08, 14 March 2013 | Report This Post


Are you kidding me??

4 stars! Seriously!? At best it scrapes a 2* - it felt dull, flat, uninspiring and apart from a few moments of head nodding to the 1939 film (which is all 5* Amazing!), I was actually rather bored. 4 stars! Man, that is hugely overgenerous........ ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chubs at 23:03, 14 March 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Just barely okay

L: Whistler to be alone hereeah, I think you should go see it. on't worry, you're not. t's no wizard of Oz. Hell, it's no Return to Oz either. Yet as a kids film it still works a treat with some pleasing Raimi imagination & humour at work (his Evil Dead roots serve him well here). There's a genuinely lovely scene involving a china girl (which later on results in a glorious Bowie pun) and I actually adored the idea that despite being in a world dominated by witchcraft, it's t... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 18:45, 14 March 2013 | Report This Post


Surprisingly good

The 3D effects are up there with Dredd and AVatar, and the story zips along nicely. More a 4 star movie but given it 5 to up it's overall rating from a rather harsh 2 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by duncansby at 07:52, 14 March 2013 | Report This Post


Oz Rules forever

Wow I saw the new 'Oz the great and powerful' yesterday at the Empire Leicester Square and all I am going to say is that the film is a thing of beauty, especially the 3D version. The story which I am not going to spoil for anyone by going into detail here, really ties in nicely with the original. Watch it on a big screen, preferably in 3D with Dolby Surround sound, with all the additional extras like VIP seating and take a box of Krispy Creme doughnuts in with you to keep your strength up ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SiBurDen at 13:40, 13 March 2013 | Report This Post


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