Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

oz the great and powerful poster 2013 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good cast, good looking

Too long

Movie Info

Movie Name: Oz the Great and Powerful

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure/Family

Release Date(s):  February 14, 2013 (Premiere)/March 8, 2013 (US)

MPAA Rating: :PG

oz the great and powerful glinda wizard finley china girl james franco michelle williams

I don’t think I’m in Kansas anymore

Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is a charlatan. As a performer in a travelling circus, Oscar finds himself on the run after bilking the wrong people and is sucked into a tornado. Touching down in the land of Oz, Oscar finds himself caught in the middle of a war for leadership. The people of Oz think that Oscar is the Wizard whose coming has been foretold, but Oscar finds himself teamed with a flying monkey named Finley, a delicate China Girl, and Glinda the Good Witch (Michelle Williams) against sister witches Theodora (Mila Kunis) and Evanora (Rachel Weisz). The fate of Oz and its people hangs in the balance!

Directed by Sam Raimi, Oz the Great and Powerful is based on the Oz novels by L. Frank Baum which began with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900. The movie also serves as a bit of a prequel to the classic The Wizard of Oz from 1939. The film was released to mixed to positive reviews and a strong box office return.

I always like Baum’s Oz stories. Though light and fluffy, they had a lot of heart and great characters. The original Wizard of Oz movie was always a special occasion that aired once a year (pre-VCRs) and it was always a big deal when it was coming on. I am always happy for an Oz movie to do well and Oz the Great and Powerful hits a lot of the marks (but also misses some points).

oz the great and powerful wicked witch theodora mila kunis

Sorry Mila…Margaret Hamilton still wins (though your winged baboons are also terrifying)

The story takes its framework from the original film. It has the black-and-white dullness of the “real” world mixed with the beauty and wonder of Oz. It also takes the idea of parallel characters which in the original film gave the movie a dream-like quality, but in this version feels a bit more arbitrary since Oz obviously isn’t a dream. The story takes parts of the film and Baum’s original novels for the story, but the movie is simply too long with it dragging at points. It also kind of feels like set-up for future films but nothing has ever come of this film.

Franco does have the stage quality that would make a good vaudevillian performer and he’s a charmer which the Wizard needs to be (but he doesn’t line up well with Frank Morgan’s Oz of the original movie). The three witches played by Williams, Weisz, and Kunis all have their moments and are decently cast. Baum originally had a Witch of the North that kind of faded from the stories, but it would have been interesting to have this story. Zach Braff is a bit distracting because Finley just feels like Braff talking out of a CGI monkey. Joey King is more effective as the China Girl who has attitude. Raimi regular Bruce Campbell plays a guard while Raimi’s brother plays a person at the magic show and Evil Dead vets Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, and Theresa Tilly also appear in small roles.

oz the great and powerful evanora vs glinda michelle williams rachel weisz

I loved this part in La La Land!

The movie is aided by a big budget, but this also distances it from the 1939 movie (also it is not a musical). It is very visual and Sam Raimi has some of his stylized look added to some of the scenes (especially the fight between Glinda and Evanora). The original stories had all the countries divided by colored landscape and that might have been an interesting visual theme to take up in this outing.

Oz the Great and Powerful is for the most part an entertaining film. It could have been pared down and tightened up to make it a better film, and it would have been good if sequels had been guaranteed to round out aspects of the story. I am still waiting for a great Oz telling and with so many streaming groups looking for content, I wonder if we’ll see the books all brought to life.

Related Links:

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Return to Oz (1985)

Legends of Oz:  Dorothy’s Return (2013)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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