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Oz The Great and Powerful: 3D BD Review

May 25th, 2013

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Sam Raimi's latest doesn't have a lot under its hood, but this is some of the best 3D SFX work in recent memory...

Buena Vista / 130 Minutes / 2013 / Rated PG / Street Date: June 11, 2013

This one must have been a tough sell. It’s not a biopic, not a full-tilt fantasia on the life and times of L. Frank Baum and the iconic worlds he concocted. No, Oz the Great and Powerful is a 3D fiesta, a loud-as-a-hurricane swirl of state-of-the-art effects and top-notch youthful Hollywood talent that feels less like a fantastical movie and more like a brazen, big-money revue.

Our thankfully simple story arc follows a guy who on Earth is kind of a dick, but in the worlds of Oz is perhaps the chosen one. Oscar Diggs (James Franco) finds himself mysteriously transported to this magical land, and when he arrives, he immediately spikes curiosity with a lovely young thing named Theodora (Mila Kunis), a witch who is convinced that this stranger has the ability to dethrone the patently evil Wicked Witch.

Glinda the Good Witch (Michelle Williams) shows up with royal grandeur, Theodora’s nasty older sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) tries to detour Oscar by sending him on a lark of a mission in the Dark Forest that almost kills him, some trusty sidekicks – a flying monkey with Zach Braff’s voice, a porcelain doll named China Girl – are thrown in for good measure: this is simple adventure storytelling that knows well enough to keep its drama simple and its special effects complicated.

And on this 3D edition of the movie, its lush, neon visual presence is almost enough to buoy Oz the Great and Powerful’s significant narrative shortcomings. Sam Raimi has orchestrated here a movie that barely limps along in terms of character or overall dramatic inertia, but is a whimsical, fantastical piece of escapist moviemaking. Raimi and his heartily capable SFX team throw everything but the kitchen sink into this 3D vortex, and the results are patently enthralling. The movie itself is airless and inert, but its technical bells and whistles somehow inject it with thrilling verve. 

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