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MOVIE REVIEW: OZ: The Great and Powerful


Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a circus magician of dubious character flees a well-deserved beating by an angry "colleague" by escaping in a hot air balloon. Diggs celebrates his triumphant getaway; but his glee is short lived. The balloon is soon engulfed by a Kansas-style twister. He lands in a strange place called Oz where the residents await his arrival. For it has been prophesized that a wise and powerful wizard would arrive, save the residents from the evil witch and would then become king. Along with becoming king, goes riches beyond Diggs' imagination.

But then there's the witches. There are the two sisters, Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Theodora (Mila Kunis); and Glinda (Michelle Williams). Evanora and Theodora warn Diggs that Glinda is evil and must be killed before he can ascend to the throne. But Glinda asserts that it is one of the sister who's really the evil witch. What's a man to do? In this case, Diggs has to prove to the residents of OZ that he is wise and powerful and worthy of their trust - and he has to determine who is actually the evil witch and deal with her.

In reviewing OZ: The Great and Powerful I have to acknowledge that I was never a fan of the classic, Wizard of Oz. So I am not surprised that I find OZ: The Great and Powerful the better of the two.

As would be expected of a Disney film, OZ is visual masterpiece with rich and vibrant colors which are enhanced by 3-D. The story is an entertaining mix of the old from the classic, and new storylines. There is a steady and undeniable sexual tension between Diggs and each of the three witches throughout the film. The cast is strong. Franco does an exceptional job playing the sneaky but likeable Diggs. Rachel Weisz is fascinating as Evanora.

OZ: The Great and Powerful receives a "B" grade for its cast diversity. Bill Cobbs plays a pivotal role as the Master Tinkerer. The diminutive Tony Cox scores big as Knuck.

According to press reports, Oz cost Disney plenty: $200 million in production costs, with another $125 million in advertising and publicity expenses.

On my rating scale of: See It, Rent It and Dead on Arrival. OZ: The Great and Powerful is definitely a See It. Oz is Great and Wonderful entertainment.

It rated PG and is 130 minutes in length.