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Oz: The Great and Powerful Movie Review

Reviewed by on Mar 08, 2013
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld visits the land of “Oz: The Great and Powerful”. Check out our review of the new magical movie!

By: Lynn Barker

Does a shady carnival magician deserve to be the most powerful man in the land of Oz? After tangling with witches, using tricks of his trade to defeat the worst of them and proving that he has strength of heart, maybe so.

The very magical land of OzThe very magical land of Oz

Humble Beginnings

In 1905, travelling carnival magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) applies his considerable charm to woo vulnerable local girls while using time-worn tricks of levitation as “The Great and Powerful Professor Oz” and dreaming to one day be a great man; an inventor. When angry locals start figuring out he’s not what he seems, Oscar takes advantage of a passing cyclone and a hot air balloon to make his escape.

Oscar (James Franco) likes China Girl's feisty attitudeOscar (James Franco) likes China Girl's feisty attitude

Landing in Oz

When Oscar’s balloon, with his “Oz” name on it, lands in a magical river, good witch Theodora (Mila Kunis) realizes that the predicted magical savior of the land has well….. landed. She’s attracted to him and, being the ladies’ man cad that he is, Oscar takes full advantage of her and the prophecy that he’ll be Wizard and ruler. On the way to capitol Emerald City, the duo runs from evil attacking baboons and later saves the tiny flying monkey Finley (voiced by Zach Braff) from being eaten by a lion.

Oscar and TheodoraOscar and Theodora on way to Emerald City

Emerald City

Theodora is sure she’ll be queen to Oscar’s king of Oz. Feeling pressured, he confesses to side-kick Finley that he’s not the wizard everyone has been waiting for. Theodora’s witchy sister Evanora (Rachel Weiz), the “guardian” of the city, welcomes the trio but doubts that Oscar is “the Wiz”. She tempts him with the city’s golden treasure. He’s told he won’t be king until he defeats the wicked witch and captures her wand. We realize Evanora isn’t all that “good”.

Theodora and OscarTheodora and Oscar

On the Road

On the way to grab the wand, Oscar and Finley find a broken China Doll (voice of Joey King) whose town has been destroyed by the evil witch’s baboon army. Oscar repairs her and she joins them on their adventure through a Dark Woods where the gang discovers Glinda the good witch (Michelle Williams). She explains that it is Evanora who is the evil one. She and her baboons killed Glinda’s dad who was once king. 

Finley, China Girl and OscarFinley, China Girl and Oscar hide in Dark Forest

Good Vs. Evil

Convincing Theodora that her “love” Oscar has betrayed her with Glinda, Evanora now has an ally in evil as Theodora is transformed into the most evil of the three sisters. Meanwhile, Glinda, Oscar, China Girl and Finley rally Glinda’s people. She convinces Oscar that he must believe in himself as her people do. They prepare for battle vs. the bad witches. Oscar teaches the people some tricks. They’ll use the magic poppy fields in front of the city to put the bad witch army to sleep.

Oscar and Glinda will rule togetherOscar and Glinda will rule together

The Battles

For a while, the tricky strategy works but baboons grab Glinda and Oscar finally summons the faith in himself and his allies to fight for her and Emerald City. Using masterful illusions and with the help of Finley, China Girl and the good folks of the land, Oscar becomes Oz: the Great and Powerful while Evanora and Glinda wage their own magical fight. Sadly, Evanora escapes as does the now evil Theodora. They’ll be back! Meanwhile Finley, China Girl, Oscar and Glinda form a loving family.

Evanora sends out her evil baboon air forceEvanora sends out her evil baboon air force

Wrapping Up

Thanks to a good script and with actor-friendly director Sam Raimi in charge, character relationships are as well-developed as the eye-popping effects in Oz: The Great and Powerful and this makes the movie far more satisfying than recent action/effects films with no heart.  The film fulfills its mission as the origin story for the wizard and would lead nicely to a sequel or two.

Sharp-toothed fairySharp-toothed fairy

As an audience member, you grow to care for or at least understand the three witchy sisters and what makes each one tick. Michelle Williams is both strong and delicate as Glinda, Rachel Weisz does a great job of portraying a power-hungry and two-faced Evanora and Mila Kunis is gorgeous and vulnerable as the heart-broken and innocent Theodora although I’m not as fond of her later portrayal of the Wicked Witch. 13-year-old Joey King does an amazing job with her voice, comic timing and delivery. She really brings brave yet fragile China Girl to life.

James Franco is very believable in slower, more tender moments as he reveals the injured soul “behind the curtain” but in key scenes demanding showmanship or commanding presence, his Oz: The Great and Powerful is more like Oz: the Okay and Adequate. You can just picture Robert Downey Jr.’s panache in the role or Johnny Depp’s off-center appeal.

Oscar (James Franco) is swept awayOscar (James Franco) is swept away

The film looks beautiful in all aspects and takes advantage of 3-D. There are so many creative, tiny and magical creatures in the backgrounds that, once the Blu-Ray disc comes out, we’ll want to freeze frame to check them all out. They are a delight. The movie is a bit long at 130 minutes and the story might seem simple but overall, this prequel to a classic is well-worth a trip to the cinema for kids and teens alike. Very young kids might be a bit scared of the wicked witch or creepy baboons. 4 Stars.

Oz: The Great and Powerful Movie Rating: 4

The posterThe poster