Oz, The Great and Powerful (2013) – Sam Raimi


I was hesitant about seeing Oz, The Great and Powerful. I wasn’t quite sure what they were going to do with it, and honestly, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go back to the land of Oz, I mean, there’s the original stories by L. Frank Baum, the classic ’39 film, there are comics, there was the ’85 film, Return To Oz…


I was pleasantly surprised.

francoIt’s not the worst film, but nor is it the best, it’s good, but the final act really doesn’t hold any surprises, but I just thought it was cool seeing Sam Raimi have fun making movies again. This is probably Raimi’s most fun film since the Evil Dead films. There are all kinds of fun camera moves, things flying at the screen, and of course, though all too briefly, Bruce Campbell.

This is essentially a prequel to the Wizard of Oz story shown to us in the 1939 film, it follows Oscar “Oz” (James Franco) a bit of a con man, ladies man and stage magician. He’s aided by the only friend he’s got, Frank (Zach Braff), who treats like crap. He’s a man who’s only concerned with himself, and making bucks, or if possible, conning people out of their bucks.

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFULMuch like in the original film, the sequences in Kansas are shot in a sepia tone, and in a 4:3 frame, though occasionally things sneak out of it, and then once Oz, boarding his balloon to escape an angry husband, he’s swept up into a tornado. He pleads with his higher power to please spare him, and he’ll try to be a better person (though we know how long those claims usually last), the next thing we know color slowly seeps into the picture, and the frame slowly sweeps out to reveal the landscape of Oz.

Once there he is introduced to a strange world with witches, including one who falls for his routine, Theodora (Mila Kunis), and when he breaks her heart, well, she embraces her dark side at the urging of her sister.

Also in this world is Glinda (Michelle Willliams) who is likable, but seems to me to be trying to channel her inner Cate Blanchett.

We stumble across Zach Braff again, this time as a CG flying monkey in a bell-hop suit, named Finley. He and Joey King’s Girl in Wheelchair and China Girl are the show-stealers. They are great, family friendly characters that I think will appeal to a lot of the younger viewers.

There are all manner of connecting materials to the 39 film, there’s a lion, talk of scarecrows, singing munchkins, a broom, a yellow brick road, wicked witches, and a poppy field.

milaThe three leading ladies are all lovely, Evanora is played by Rachel Weisz who has always been a favorite, and I may be odd, but Mila is kinda hot all green…

The film may be frightening for younger viewers, there’s flying baboons that seem incredibly reminiscent of Deadites, and honestly there was a moment when I thought Oz was going to say “Baby, you got real ugly” to Theodora… Missed opportunity?

The film is by no means perfect, and if you’re looking for it, it’s very easy to find faults in it.

However, it’s a Disney movie, it’s a mostly family friendly, and the 3D as well as the CG are top-notch. Raimi’s use of 3D is not only to add depth to the picture, which he does, but there are moments when things are flying right out at you.

So depending on who’s going to the theater it may be worth it…


7 Comments Add yours

  1. What if Ash starred in Oz the Great and Powerful?

      1. ironmanjakarta1 says:

        Thanks! Great review. Do you see both the 2d and 3d to compare? Which is better?

      2. TD Rideout says:

        Well, Raimi intentionally shot in 3D and wanted to make full use of the depth of field as well as the concept of things jumping off the screen at the audience. So for now, I’m quite happy with just having seen the 3D version.

      3. ironmanjakarta1 says:

        But he mentioned he hated 3d because he of the fuzziness in the background so I wondered if the 2d was more what he wanted.

      4. TD Rideout says:

        We saw it in a Digital Imax presentation, and I didn’t detect any fuzziness, the resolution was top notch. He did say that the 2D experience is a different one from the 3D, but for now, I’m happy with this version.

      5. ironmanjakarta1 says:

        Must of been beautiful in Digital IMAX. I only saw it in 2d. Hope to see it in 3d soon.

        He did mention in an interview that the 3d and 2d versions were slightly different.

        I found the article where he disses 3d because of the noisy cameras, lack of depth, the fuzziness, and how he would resist using 3d in the future unless the movie required it:


        Beaks: Do you consider yourself a 3D convert?

        Raimi: No. The cameras that I used were too loud. They took too much light. I really wanted to see the world forever. In my vision of Oz, and Robert Stromberg’s vision of Oz, there was a crystal clarity in the air where you could see for miles. But this 3D system had so much of a light falloff with this half-silvered mirror that the depth of field would be shallow. So I’d run into these animatic artists and [Visual Effects Supervisor] Scott Stokdyk saying to me, “Sam, you want us to see forever, but look! The focus is falling off on your set here after thirty feet! I can’t bring the focus back! They’re going to think it’s a bad effect! It doesn’t look real!” So Bob, Scott and I had a constant back-and-forth. I wanted tremendous depth-of-field, and this 3D system that I used didn’t have it. I’m not a giant fan of it. I think it was the right tool for this project, and I think our 3D team did a wonderful job. It’s very effective in this film, I think. But I don’t think I’m a convert for future films. It’s possible, but it would really have to be the right choice for a lot of reasons. I’m so aware of the pitfalls.

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