New on DVD: ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’

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James Franco (the one in the hat) in ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’

oz-dvd1L. Frank Baum’s fantastical Oz series gets turned into another CGI spectacle with Sam Raimi’s pretty but pretty unremarkable Oz the Great and Powerful, which hit shelves today on DVD and Blu-ray.

My review is over at Film Racket; here’s part of it:

Sam Raimi’s big and splashy but tin-eared prequel Oz the Great and Powerful turns the spirit of the 1937 The Wizard of Oz inside out. Oz is no longer the place where misguided Earth youths like Dorothy can discover how special home really is. This time, Oz — with its expensively imagined rainbow- and candy-colored vistas of cold, computer-generated wonderment — is all things to its titular human interloper. For Oz the man, he would never think to say there’s no place like home, since dreary old black-and-white Kansas offers no home for him. They never appreciated his act back there anyway. The land of Oz, on the other hand, provides the greatest audience he’s ever seen…

You can watch the trailer here:

Now Playing: ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’

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oz-poster1Since studios are always trawling for the next great public domain property they can spin into a easily lucrative franchise, it was a matter of time before a gargantuan CGI budget was thrown at L. Frank Baum’s Oz series. It was also perhaps preordained that the resulting film would be pretty and pretty unremarkable.

My review of Oz the Great and Powerful is over at Film Racket; here’s part of it:

Sam Raimi’s big and splashy but tin-eared prequel Oz the Great and Powerful turns the spirit of the 1937 The Wizard of Oz inside out. Oz is no longer the place where misguided Earth youths like Dorothy can discover how special home really is. This time, Oz — with its expensively imagined rainbow- and candy-colored vistas of cold, computer-generated wonderment — is all things to its titular human interloper. For Oz the man, he would never think to say there’s no place like home, since dreary old black-and-white Kansas offers no home for him. They never appreciated his act back there anyway. The land of Oz, on the other hand, provides the greatest audience he’s ever seen…

Oz opened a few weeks back but is still playing pretty much everywhere. You can watch the trailer here:

 

Trailer Park: ‘Oz: the Great and Powerful’

Strangely, given both the rather towering presence that the film The Wizard of Oz holds in world cultural consciousness and the current mania for sequels and films based on proven properties, it’s been decades since anybody has tried to make another film based on the L. Frank Baum series. There’s over a dozen books there, filled with strange worlds and CGI-worthy beasties to turn into multiplex 3D and IMAX gold. The sour memory of Walter Murch’s then-failed but now 1985 cult classic Return to Oz  holds a powerful sway over studio heads, it seems.

But next spring, Disney (which holds film rights to the entire series) is getting back into the Oz business. Sam Raimi is at the helm of Oz: the Great and Powerful, with James Franco (who he directed in the Spider-man series) starring as the young Wizard, who gets swept away to Oz in a balloon years before young Dorothy is even born. There is some great potential here for a sweeping new kind of fantasy filmmaking, but also for an imagination-starved Tim Burton-esque detour into design and animation for its own sake.

Either way, the trailer is up now and shows that at least Raimi is borrowing the trick of using color stock for Oz and black-and-white for Kansas: