DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Oz the Great and Powerful 3D, Blu-ray (2013)

A fun 3D feature using some of the elements of the original Wizard of Oz, but with a number of twists.

Published on June 12, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful 3D, Blu-ray (2013)

Cast: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis
Director: Sam Rami
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 111607 [6/11/13]
Video: Window-framed B&W & 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced color 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 7.1, DD 5.1, DD 2.0, French DD 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Dubbed: French or Spanish
Extras: Digital copy (not 3D)
Length: 130 minutes
Rating: **** 

Well, there’s no Dorothy and no red shoes, but this would still make a great double feature with the MGM original. I was also thinking they left out the Munchkins completely, but finally towards the end there were the Munchkins, so Oz fans won’t be totally disappointed.  The visual splendor of this Disney effort is something to behold. It definitely makes use of all the computer enhancements that weren’t possible back when the original Oz was put on film at MGM, including some very effective 3D. (And I was pleased to find one wasn’t forced to wade thru endless Disney previews and promotions as usual to get to the intended feature film; it came up rather quickly.)

First, many consumers are upset that Disney chose to have two separate 2D and 3D versions instead of one Blu-ray with both, as most other studios do. There is supposed to be a coupon inside the 3D version that allows you to purchase a 2D Blu-ray for about $6 but I didn’t see it in mine. Some consumers are waiting until July 1, when a region-free 2D & 3D Blu-ray will be released by Amazon UK, but as for now, if you want both you will be spending about $63—thanks a lot Disney.

The director is responsible for the Spiderman Trilogy, so he knows what he’s doing here. This film concentrates on the carnival magician Oscar Diggs (Franco), and opens with problems he is having in a carnival in Kansas when a tornado sweeps him and his hot-air balloon up and eventually into the Technicolor Land of Oz. In that wondrous land he meets three witches who are far from convinced that he is the great wizard who was prophesized. Reluctantly he is drawn into the serious problems the people of Oz are facing due to the actions of the evil witch. Soon there are two evil witches, as the one who first met Diggs is changed into a another evil witch who is in cahoots with her sister, played by Rachael Weisz. Diggs is forced to put his arts of magic to useful purpose thru his ingenuity and expertise in illusion. He thus transforms himself and provides a better future for all the people of Oz, as well as winning the good witch for himself (who is the stand-in for the woman who comes to him in Kansas at the beginning to tell him she is marrying another man).

New slants on the Yellow Brick Road and the patch of sleep-inducing poppies are fun, and the flying monkeys are much more terrifying than in the original. One of the ploys Diggs dreams up to fight the evil witches is a cadre of straw men, but the Cowardly Lion is nowhere to be seen, and there is an unexplained little china doll who is not a part of the original Frank Baum story. That upset some of the adherents-to-the original. Franco doesn’t quite fit the role of the carnival huckster, but altho typical Disneyesque, the plot lumbers along to some satisfying lengths. Kids will probably love it. The outlandlish landscapes are great fun in 3D, and the dazzle and darkness are there too. Not a totally wasted 130 minutes with those 3D glasses on.

—John Sunier




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