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Oz The Great And Powerful Blu-ray Review

Oz The Great And Powerful Blu-ray

“Oz The Great And Powerful” has no identity of its own.

In this prequel to “The Wizard of Oz,” the story revolves around a young shady magician (Oscar Diggs) who becomes caught in a tornado and is promptly whisked away to the merry old land of Oz. Upon arrival, Oscar learns that he is essentially being championed as the chosen wizard who will stop the Wicked Witch. The 3 witches (Theodora, Glinda, and Evanora), however, are skeptical that he is the chosen one which results in plenty of conflict and power struggles. Aiding Oscar in his new adventure are a kind flying monkey (Finley), a living china doll (China Girl), and a herald named Knuck.

Seeing as how“The Wizard of Oz” is one of my all-time favorite films, I was skeptical, but excited by the prospect of seeing a new cinematic Oz tale. With today’s technology and the talent of Sam Raimi, potential was high for “Oz the Great and Powerful.” Alas, there was nothing magical about this bloated trip down the yellow brick road.

I realize it is no small task to follow in the footsteps of  “The Wizard of Oz,” but the problem with ‘Powerful’ is that it spends the whole running time paying home to ‘Wizard’ while also trying to connect to it from a continuity standpoint. As a result, Raimi’s film has no real identity of its own as it’s constantly trying to recapture characters, images, and moments from the 1939 masterpiece. In that regard, the film almost feels like a remake more than a prequel.

Now, I’m not saying the movie doesn’t have any original elements. There are new characters (like Finley, China Girl, and Evanora), new creatures (the Baboons), a new score (by Danny Elfman) and new locations, but none of them had any sort of emotional impact. 50 years from now, no one will be talking about the bland comedic relief characters like the Zach Braff voiced Finley nor will they be discussing Danny Elfman’s mediocre score. The music and the characters were the life of “The Wizard of Oz” and this film lacked life.

Part of the reason ‘Powerful’ is so lacking is because of director Sam Raimi and some badly miscast roles. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, but I personally don’t like Sam Raimi’s massive budget work. At his core, Raimi is a more exciting filmmaker when he has a smaller budget ala “Evil Dead” and “A Simple Plan.” The low budgets force him to be more creative and he thrives in that environment. When he has a big budget as with ‘Oz’ and the profoundly overblown “Spider-Man” films, they feel like bloated, ambitious failures. He wants to do too much and loses focus of what makes his films good.

As for the cast, there are only two stand-outs here in Michelle Williams and James Franco. Franco, who seems to get a lot of unnecessary flack these days, is convincing as Oscar and he does the best he can with this clumsy role. Williams, on the other hand, is pitch perfect as Glinda. She steals the entire film and I wish the movie would have revolved around her instead. On the downside, there is Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz. We know both of these actresses can give good performances as evidenced by films like “Black Swan,” “The Constant Gardener,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” and “About A Boy,” but they are out of their league here. Kunis is comically bad in her role as Theodora and she comes off as an angry Meg from “Family Guy” more than anything else. Weisz (who plays Evanora) also tries way too hard here and isn’t convincing in the least.

Video/Audio:

‘Oz’ is presented in both 1.33:1 (in B&W at the beginning) and in 2.40:1 (when in color). The B&W to color transition is a nice touch and is one of the few rewarding aspects of the entire film. As for the transfer, it’s about as perfect as it gets for Blu-ray. From a visual standpoint, ‘Oz’ is a gorgeous and colorful film that is supremely well shot and this disc really captures that. Note: A Blu-ray 3D copy is also available to purchase if you’re into that format.

The 7.1 DTSHD-MA audio track is the major track here, but viewers also have the option of playing it in Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1. Clearly, the 7.1 track is the way to go here. This is a big movie and there is a lot going on here on an audio level. Everything from the tornado to the Baboon noises really comes to life on home speaker systems.

Extras:
* DVD copy and digital copy.
* Disney trailers.
* “Walt Disney and The Road To Oz”- A fantastic extra about Walt Disney’s attempt to make a “The Wizard Of Oz” movie and even a Disneyland attraction before “Return To Oz” and “Oz The Great and Powerful” were made.
* 5 minutes of amusing bloopers.
* “Mr. Elfman’s Musical Concoctions”- Danny Elfman talks about his score and his working collaboration with Sam Raimi.
* “Mila’s Metamorphosis”- A behind-the-scenes look at and discussions about Mila Kunis becoming the…well, I won’t spoil it in case some of you readers don’t know.
* “China Girl And The Suspension Of Disbelief”- A featurette about the China Girl character and the voice actress who plays the character (Joey King).
* “My Journey In Oz By James Franco”- A video diary of James Franco talking to the camera as well as other cast and crew members while on set. Loads of behind-the-scenes footage is also included. A notable extra.
* “Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas To Oz”- A featurette about the impressive production design by Robert Stromberg.
* “Disney Second Screen”- An iPad feature

Summary: I wanted to get lost in Oz again, but I couldn’t get invested in “Oz the Great and Powerful.” Stick with “The Wizard of Oz” instead, folks.

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June 8, 2013 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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