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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - June, 2013

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"Oz the Great and Powerful" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movies-jun-2013-OZ

Synopsis

Disney’s fantastical adventure follows Oscar Diggs (Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics. When Diggs is hurled away to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot — until he meets three witches (Kunis, Weisz and Williams), who aren’t convinced he’s the great wizard everyone’s expecting. Reluctantly drawn into epic problems facing Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it’s too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity — and even some wizardry — Oscar transforms himself into the great wizard and a better man as well.

Specifications

  • Disney Studios
  • Color, 2013,  Rated PG-13, 1 hour 40 minutes
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
  • MPEG 4 /1080p 2.40:1 ratio
  • Starring: James Franco, Michelle Williams Mila Kunis, Rachel Wiesz
  • Directed by: Sam Raimi
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

Though the movies starts off in black and white (not sepia, like the original), it quickly devolves into “Oz the Dull, Meets Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland’. Other than some spectacular visuals and heavy amounts of CGI, this “prequel” lacks the wit and charm of the original. When you make a prequel to one of the best loved kid's movies of all time, you set the bar pretty high. The population of Oz is so politically correct (racially diverse), and the witches so catty, that you wonder as the credits roll what the point of the movie was: Oscar is a womanizer and an ego-centric jerk that finally finds redemption at the end? Wow, never seen that done in a movie before.That people can’t control their destiny without some trickster coming from Kansas to lead the way? Come on people, have some pride in yourselves. Well, whatever the ultimate message, your kids will most likely be entertained by all of the technicolor. However, the Flying Baboons will likely scare them  as they are a bit over-the-top with fangs and claws. And Kunis, as the witch, was a bit too malicious as well. Nothing exudes warmth and charm like her screaming, “Kill them! Kill them all!”.

So, click your heels together and repeat after me, "There's no place like the original."

Technical

Some of the CGI was a bit too artificial for my tastes, but in all fairness, this is the land of OZ and some of the effects could be considered “normal’. The colors and details will astound your kids. Shadow details remain intact, especially during the night time finale in the Emerald City. The 7.1 audio is excellent, with plenty of effects and deep bass rumblings to keep a Munchkin giddy. Curiously, the movie defaults to DD 2.0. Be sure to go into the setup and select the hi-rez 7.1 audio. All of this technical (ahem) wizardry makes for a great looking/sounding movie, but ultimately it collapses under its own weight due to a flimsy story line.

Extras

Bloopers, featurettes and an App that connects to several more on-line extras: The Magic of 'Oz The Great and Powerful' (Second Screen Experience). A DVD is also included.