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Oz the Great and Powerful - Blu-ray Review [Region-A,B,C]

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Oz the Great and Powerful - Movie Review

2 stars

There are few films in the history of cinema with such reverence attached than 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. It is a tall order to rise above expectation that any film could enter that world and ingrain itself so indelibly as the Victor Fleming directed classic did. Even though the film actually bombed upon its theatrical release, it has since become one of the few holy grails of cinematic achievement. A revisit to Oz for those brave enough to try has always met with heartbreak…

Cut to seventy plus years and Spider-man director Sam Raimi decides to brave it. A lot of big names were sought and even negotiate for the lead. Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr. are two that made the trades as possibilities. But ultimately it is Spider-man support player and Raimi collaborator James Franco that signed on the dotted line to play the Wizard.

Mila Kunis, Michelle William, Rachel Weiss, and Zach Braff to name a few, round out the cast for a tale that will begin some twenty years before Dorothy and Toto land of the Wicked Witch of the East in Munchkinland.

Oscar Diggs is a charlatan magician eking out an existence on the Kansas fringes as a travelling sideshow. He is embittered with his existence and his life in general and takes it out on his long suffering assistant. When a storm transports him to the land of Oz, and he is discovered by the smitten Theodora (Kunis), he is mistaken for a prophesized Wizard that will bring peace to Oz once and for all. But Evanora (Weiss), Theodora’s evil elder sister, sees him for the fraud he is, and sets him on a path to serve her will and keep Oz under her control. When Oscar discovers the truth, he teams with the exiled Glinda (Williams) to overthrow Evanora and bring peace to Oz after all… despite his profound character defects.

As far as plot is concerned, it has the potential to create some compelling conflict and create windows into the souls of these characters we can relate to. Problem is it doesn’t: the period fidelity to the kind of performance actors may have employed back in the day is too far removed from most of the young cast for them to pull it off. In the end it is their lack of immersion that fails to rise above artifice and convince in any meaningful way. Only Rachel Weiss really manages to handle her character with any believability but even she looks bored.

This is a spectacular looking movie, and its production design is otherworldly and intoxicating to gaze upon. But this is the 21st century and as audiences we’re spoiled: the pretty pictures that go by a mile a minute are not enough to hold the attention.

Franco has proven himself to be a solid lead in other movies: this reviewer did not find his presence anything but a benefit to films like 127 Hours Later and the impressive Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but he’s a complete miss as Oscar Diggs. He doesn’t have the personality required to pull this character off. Had Robert Downey Jr. or Depp done this a very different movie would have ensued, I suspect. Kunis and Williams also fail to convince, and other non-human support players are rather flat and forgettable when placed in front of the vistas Raimi creates.

In fact, Oz only elicits any emotional response when it presents one of these jaw dropping landscapes. Little kids will find the pretty colours are CG characters fun to look at, but as far as anything for an older kid or an adult, it provides almost nothing. Nevertheless, it has made substantial earnings at the box office, and there is very likely going to be another one. It may have surpassed The Wizard of Oz financially upon its opening, but a classic this film isn’t.

Oz the Great and Powerful - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG for sequences of action and scary images, and brief mild language.
Runtime:
130 mins.
Director
: Sam Raimi
Writer
: Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire
Cast: James Franco; Michelle Williams; Mila Kunis; Rachel Weisz; Zach Braff
Genre
: Fantasy | Adventure
Tagline:
The land you know. The story you don't.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I don't want to be a good man... I want to be a great one."
Distributor:
Walt Disney Pictures
Official Site:
disney.go.com/thewizard
Release Date: March 8, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 1, 2013

Synopsis: Disney's fantastical adventure Oz The Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum's beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he's hit the jackpot--fame and fortune are his for the taking--that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone's been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity--and even a bit of wizardry--Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.

oz the Great and Powerful - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - June 11, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English, Italian, Russian
Dubbed: Italian, Russian, Ukrainian
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 2.0
Disc Classifaction: PG
Discs:
50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); iTunes digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: A,B,C

Well, it’s a shame the movie isn’t as impressive as the picture, because as far as movies released this year on blu ray, you will find nothing to make a HD display pop with rich colour and vibrancy like this movie. The AVC 1080p encode is all but flawless. Other sites have noted some crush in dark portions of the picture, but I’m either going blind or didn’t notice them. Same can be said of the immersive DTS-HD 7.1 soundtrack that will leave your speakers in a sweat. Extras are average, with mostly short featurettes on offer about certain parts of production. Collectively, they do provide a decent amount of information about the movie and its contributors.