Oz: The Great and Powerful (Blu-ray 3D)

June 10, 2013 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Last Fall I was stumbling around the internet and came across a trailer for Oz: The Great and Powerful.  Interesting.  After all, I’m hard-pressed to find anyone out there who hasn’t either seen and/or loved The Wizard of Oz, it’s simply one of the most beloved films of all-time. And having spent my time in Kansas (even graduating from college there) I’ve heard just about every joke imaginable regarding the aforementioned title.  With the advent of more comic book movies, we’re getting more “origin” stories or better known to us as prequels.  So when director Sam Raimi took it upon himself to do this film, I’m sure he tread very carefully.  After all The Wizard of Oz is like Hollywood royalty and you don’t really want to mess with that.  Still, it begs the question in that can you have a movie with “Oz” in the title with no Dorothy, no Toto, no Scarecrow, Tin Man or Lion? Evidently you can.

Oz: The Great and Powerful tells the tale of, well, Oz (James Franco) an illusionist who’s part of a traveling circus in Kansas.  He’s good, but not great and seems to lack a certain moral fiber.  So when he’s literally run out of town, he hops on board a hot air balloon, gets caught in a twister and, well, you know how that goes.  He finds himself in a strange place only to be greeted by Theodora (Mila Kunis), someone who believes Oz to be a prophet of sorts.  Leading him back to the the city, he meets her older sister, Evanora (Rachael Weisz) who isn’t so easily convinced.  Evanora sends Oz on a mission in which he’s to kill the witch Glinda (Michelle Williams) and return with her wand.  If he accomplishes this mission, all will presumably be well.  As Oz (and us) quickly figure out, appearances can be deceiving and we learn who the true villian(s) really are.  But is it too late?

Look, I’ll be the first one to say it, Oz: The Great and Powerful is no Wizard of Oz.  Then again I ‘think it’d be unrealistic to think it would be.  It uses the same premise that we’re all familiar with and it tells a good story.  I’m a big fan of James Franco and I think he does well in his role.  It’s also nice to see Rachel Weisz in movies again.  I have a hard time differentiating Mila Kunis’ voice from that of Meg on Family Guy, but that’s just me.  It’s a bit darker than its predecessor, but I will say that the film does evoke some thought, we see some of the same similarities and much in the same way that the last 30 minutes of Star Wars: Episode III segued into Star Wars, so too does this.  Director Sam Raimi and Producer Joe Roth have done a fine job here and while they haven’t unseated The Wizard of Oz as a family classic, maybe they’ve brought a bit more attention to a movie that deserves to be seen by all (the previous, of course).

Video: How does it look?

The original film pushed the limits of technology way back in 1939 opening with a sepia-toned sequence (it’s black and white this time around) and then literally bursting into a world of color.  Granted, we’ve become a bit more desensitized to color in the year 2013, but this is one visually-aggressive film.  Colors leap off the screen, the depth and texture in the clouds, the ambiance and everything in between seems so real you feel you could reach out and touch it.  This is one of those titles shown in 3D that was actually made for it, much like Martin Scorsese’s Hugo last year.  The oh so wide 2.40:1 AVC HD image is stunning from opening to closing and I really couldn’t find anything to point out as a flaw.  This is simply a perfect transfer from beginning to end and it will look amazing on any and all devices that you show it on.

Audio: How does it sound?

As impressive as the visuals are, the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack holds its own with them.  This sound stage is immersive as well, and I’m thinking back to the tornado sequence in the beginning and how active it made all of my speakers become.  It makes me wonder if they’re half asleep during some of the other movies I watch.  Not so here.  Vocals are strong and well-centered, surrounds are prevalent and the LFE are seemingly more active that I’d ever thought.  I hate to stop short on this, but there’s not a lot more to be said here – it’s a prime example of a soundtrack that has nothing to improve on.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Well, this is interesting.  In a move that’s got me scratching my head, Disney has opted not to include the supplements on an optical media disc, rather via direct download from a website that’s, as of this writing, not yet live.  These same features are available on the regular Blu-ray disc, but that’s not a part of this set.  While I can see the benefit of this, I’m someone who likes to have the extras in hand rather than banking on an internet connection.  I’ll update this review when these become available.

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