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James Franco and Michelle Williams in "Oz theGreat and Powerful "; photo courtesy of Disney

 

“Oz the Great and Powerful” (Disney)

 

“Oz the Great and Powerful” has all the ingredients necessary to make a terrible movie. It is the prequel to one of the most beloved movies of all time, “The Wizard of Oz.” It has James Franco in the lead role and he is an actor people tend to love or hate; there does not appear to be a middle ground. The story isn’t a musical and so the fanciful story could be more than a little bit cheesy.

 

After watching the film I found it to be very pleasant viewing. The story fits snugly into its pre-Wizard of Oz” setting and tips its hat as to what is to come. Franco plays Oz as a con man for most of the film but in the end his heart bursts forth. Plus he is likeable even when he is acting unlikeable. The special effects are wonderful and the color is awesome. So what is not to like!

 

The film starts in Kansas where Oz (Franco) is a circus magician. He is also quite the man with the ladies. During one of his acts he is asked to cure a lame girl (Joey King) but begs off saying it is not his thing. The audience becomes angry but they are interrupted by the circus strong man who is after Oz because he has been involved with the strong man’s girlfriend. Oz hops into a hot air balloon and flees only to head straight into a tornado. This storm takes him to the land of Oz.

 

In Oz he meets Theodora (Mila Kunis) who takes him to be the wizard for whom they have all been waiting. When she mentions the fortune awaiting the Wizard, Oz goes along with the mistake. Theodora takes him back to the kingdom where she introduces him to her sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz). Evanora tells him he can have all the fortune but first he has to kill the “wicked witch.”

 

Oz sets out to kill the witch accompanied by a flying monkey named Finley (voiced by Zack Braff), and a China Doll (voiced by Joey King). They end up meeting Glinda (Michelle Williams) who is a witch but a good one. She talks Oz into doing battle with the bad witch(es).

 

The story gets a bit slow at times but it is fast enough to keep kids engrossed and adults can spend their time listening for the “Wizard of Oz” references. All can enjoy the 3-D effects as well as the animation and the brilliant coloring that arrives when Oz reaches Oz.

 

The movie is rated PG for some scary scenes with the witches.

 

“Oz the Great and Powerful” is certainly not the equal of “The Wizard of Oz” but it is enjoyable family entertainment. It could become an annual TV event as “The Wizard of Oz” did. The humor and the heart of the story is much in keeping with the original film.

 

I scored “Oz the Great and Powerful” a yellow brick 7 out of 10.

 
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