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March 08, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful Review


I have spent some time in the Emerald City. I have eased on down the yellow brick road (below). I have paid attention to the man behind the curtain. I know from Oz.

What I did not know was what to expect from Disney's Oz the Great and Powerful. The original Wizard of Oz film is, obviously, a classic, and on top of that it is tied for FAVORITEST MOVIE EVER (with Mary Poppins) on a list of such things as compiled by my youngest son. Needless to say, the movie had some big ruby-stained footsteps in which to follow.

And so it was, two weeks ago, that we went to see Oz the Great and Powerful on the Walt Disney Studios lot, which is something akin to Oz in its own right. It was the night of my little boy's birthday, a full day of seven under his belt, and he had so many wishes waiting to be granted. I really hoped that Oz could deliver.

It did.

Oz the Great and Powerful is about the actual wizard, a man named Oz (James Franco), and how he went from his life as a womanizing snake oil salesman in old timey, black and white Kansas, to a very rich righter of wrongs and recreational hot air balloonist in the much more colorful and somewhat opium-influenced land that bears his name (Oz, not Franco).

Once in the merry old land of Him, Oz meets a witch (but which witch?), a little china girl (oh, oh, oh, ohoo), gives Zach Braff a banana, and paints the town green. Then he jumps in a bubble and we're off!

Oz must free the Emerald City from the wickedness that festers there by uniting the peoples of the land, harnessing their respective skill sets, and a little nothing up my sleeve. In the process he learns something about himself—something we suspected from the start, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance! CAN HE DO IT?

The special effects, CGI, use of 3D, and cinematography are mesmerizing. The humor is spot on, the action and suspense are exactly what those words mean, and the story is far more interesting and engaging than I ever would have suspected.

My boys loved it (even the scenes that have been labeled as too intense by the constant and aggressive ad campaign, which to be fair, are pretty darn intense). My wife loved it. Everyone we spoke with after the screening loved it.

In fact the only concern that I heard from anyone came out of my own mouth, and that was the lack of singing in the film. So much of what made the first movie a hit was the music, and it was weird to be in Oz without a sing-along soundtrack and the subsequent arm-locked choreography.

That said, I got over it.

Whether or not Oz the Great and Powerful stands the test of time like its predecessor remains to be seen, but nevertheless it is a fun romp through a magical (and sometimes quite scary) land. Who doesn't like a good romping?


The author in Oz, circa 1988.



Now with activities!

My family and I attended a screening courtesy of Disney for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.


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