Disney’s fantastical adventure “Oz The Great and Powerful,” directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved wizard character. 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 wizard but into a better man as well.
I have many fond memories of watching The Wizard of Oz while growing up. When I heard that they were making a movie with back story about how the wizard comes to Oz, I knew that I had to see it. I wasn't sure what to expect. After all, it's hard to top a classic.
But Disney has created something that tops even my childhood memories. I attended a screening for Oz The Great and Powerful in 3D. It was visually stunning! The contrast between black and white and vibrant color was brilliantly done. You can't help but feel that you're being carried away to a magical place. In 3D, no detail is overlooked. You feel like you are experiencing everything that the characters experience. At one point in the movie, it actually felt like it was snowing in the movie theater. It is definitely worth paying a little extra for the 3D effects!
James Franco captured my attention from the very beginning. His character was very believable as a con-man in a traveling circus. I couldn't help but laugh at this person with a flawed moral compass and endearing charms. He played the part perfectly and I found myself rooting for him by the latter half of the movie.
Michelle Williams is absolutely amazing as Glinda. She is not only strikingly beautiful, but her facial expressions and her eyes draw you in and make you believe that she is indeed a champion of good.
I have always been a fan of Rachel Weisz and was pleasantly surprised by her role in the movie. The only thing I found a bit odd was that she and Theodora (Mila Kunis) were supposed to be sisters: one sister with a British accent and the other without. I kept wondering were they adopted sisters? Step sisters? Why did one sister have an accent and one didn't? It was a bit of a mystery to me.
On a family-friendly scale, there is some adult type humor but (as usual) it will probably be over your kids' heads and isn't too inappropriate. It is rated PG for a reason though. There are some darker scenes that might be a little scary. But the flying monkeys, especially in 3D, are a quite frightening. The sounds that they make, their bat-like wings and snarling teeth may be scary to younger children. They really jump in your face at times! (And I thought the old flying monkeys were scary growing up; these are far more intense) In my opinion, they were more scary than the green witch. I'd recommend it for ages 7-8+ because of that.
The themes in this movie, though a little complicated, are great to discuss with your children. Truth vs. lies or "fibbing" is dealt with throughout the film. Other themes include helping others, bravery, how to be "good", and working together.
Oz The Great and Powerful is truly a breathtaking adventure for the whole family. This is one movie we will definitely add to our collection and watch over and over again. In the words of my son, it is THAT awesome.
Keep up with the latest news on Oz The Great and Powerful landing in theaters March 8th:
Disclosure: I was invited to attend a free screening of this movie. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own. For more info. see my Disclosure Policy.