The film starts off in black & white as we are introduced to Oz's ho-hum life as a magician in a traveling carnival. Color only enters the world when Oz is transported to this new magical land; and when he gets there, it certainly does come to life. Fleeing his carnival life, Oz's hot-air balloon is caught in a spectacularly staged tornado that transports him to the wondrous land of Oz. Oscar's arrival is afforded the full color, widescreen treatment by Raimi and his band of CGI landscapers. Though garishly convincing, the world of Oz lacks the 'wow' factor of James Cameron's "Avatar" (2009).The visuals here are for the most part stunning - magical creatures, lush tropical plants, and fantastical cities fill the world. A bit too much green-screening is overused (a minor issue), but doesn't take away from the overall effects and experience.
James Franco does a great job at carrying this film, for the most part. Oscar comes across more as a sleazy opportunist--a man conflicted with his inner-demons. His charm and cocky attitude-works well in this film-as he is forced to politely lie and muddle his way through the adventure. Fortunately, the triumvirate of witches fare far better, and whilst to discuss any of the three characters in any detail would spoil significant portions of the plot and film, the latter half of the film in particular is dominated by the trio, and thankfully so. Weisz and Williams are fitting antitheses as Evanora and Glinda--but it is Mila Kunis, who truly comes to dominate the film with her commanding performance as Theodora.
In all, Oz the Great and Powerful is a terrific film, probably the first true blockbuster of the year. It maintains the wonder and tone of the '39 megaclassic without messing around with the characters. It serves well as a prequel.
Genres : Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Director : Sam Raimi
Writers : Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire
Stars : James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz