First Wave Of OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL Reviews Are In! Is It Magical Or Dull?
Mild Spoilers! Reviews for Sam Raimi's latest fantasy offering, Oz: The Great and Powerful have arrived! Hit the jump to check out a compilation of excerpts from some of the top film critics.
Visually Elaborate But Dramatically Thin
Quite apart from the question of whether the picture lives up to its various inspirations, however, “Oz the Great and Powerful” finally falls short by dint of a too-timid imagination. In straining for an all-ages simplicity, the script comes off as merely banal, full of flat, repetitive dialogue about who’s good, who’s wicked and, most incessantly, whether Oscar is a real wizard, an opportunistic scoundrel or perhaps both. Not until the third act does the film start to jell, with a couple of arresting setpieces that neatly demonstrate how pluck, resourcefulness and an endless supply of tricks can equal, and even overcome, real magic.
In a real sense, “Oz the Great and Powerful” has a certain kinship with George Lucas’ “Star Wars” prequels, in the way it presents a beautiful but borderline-sterile digital update of a world that was richer, purer and a lot more fun in lower-tech form. Here, too, the actors often look artificially superimposed against their CG backdrops, though the intensity of the fakery generates its own visual fascination. - Justin Chang from Variety
Dresses Up Dull Prequel Story With Special Effects Wizadry
After the murky, muddled visuals of “Alice In Wonderland” and the mostly bland Mars in “John Carter,” the world pulled up here truly feels special. A sequence in which Oz careens down a rapidly flowing river, taking in the sights and sounds of this new land he finds himself in, is beautifully rendered with eye-popping color, and fully realized plants and creatures that are distinctly exotic. It’s impressive stuff, made all the more so given that we’re often treated to CGI that’s rushed or simply dull, usually to meet the strict requirements of a release date. Let this be a lesson to Hollywood that taking the time to do it right pays off.
Story flaws aside, Franco acquits himself well in the lead role. He pretty much hits the smarmy Oz head on, evoking the combination of his hubris and self-protective tendencies quite well, while selling the slow melt of his hard, greedy, selfish heart and his turn into the hero. While Raimi’s original choice of Robert Downey Jr. probably would’ve been better suited, Franco makes it his own, and again proves his can be an underestimated leading man. Williams and Weisz are both expectedly solid here, but if there is any major stumble, it’s with a woefully miscast Kunis. She can’t quite manage the tricky tone of the movie, which is definitely pitched towards kids, but also feels very much like a throwback to Fleming’s era in its tone and spirit. Kunis’ delivery never quite gels with the material, and without giving too much away, the movie, particularly as it moves into its second and third acts, would’ve fared better if Weisz and Kunis swapped parts. - Kevin Jagernauth from The Playlist
Sam Raimi Brilliantly Recaptures That Old Magic
But it's those flaws and his general gaucheness that make Oz such a winning hero. Franco may play it for laughs too self-consciously at times, but it's the sort of humor that kids and grown-ups can both delight in, and it doesn't spoil the magic because, behind the talk, his actions reveal the brains, heart and courage that he'll later bestow on a scarecrow, tin-man and cowardly lion.
Throughout, Raimi strikes just the right balance of dreamy nostalgia and sharp wit. You simply must go off to see the wizard. - Stella Papamichael from Digital Spy
Plays Like A Greatest Hits Of Sam Raimi
While Oz The Great And Powerful's main draw of eye-popping, colour-drenched 3D will draw most eyes, it's these early scenes that really make the film fly. Raimi can build an action set piece as well as anyone, ransack it with a lightning fast whip zoom, then do it all over again and still make it feel fresh, but he's just as good at the quieter moments. Better, in fact.
If anything though, Oz The Great And Powerful could do with less fanfare, and maybe, dare I say it, a little less Raimi of old. It borrows Evil Dead 2's hero from the sky prophecy almost to the letter, and has a third act ripped straight from Army Of Darkness. It doesn't quite fit here though. Herecy, right? And me, a Raimi fan. Like any greatest hits, you love it at the time, but can't help feel that you'd like a little more substance. To paraphrase Army Of Darkness' Ash, Oz The Great And Powerful will give you the sugar, baby. But maybe not much more. - Luke Savage from Den Of Geeks
A Miscast James Franco & A Lack Of Charm and Humor
Fatally miscast as the con man wizard, James Franco possesses none of the charm and humor necessary to carry Oz the Great and Powerful. All the same, eager children undoubtedly will go along for the ride and probably be fine with it, meaning that Disney -- with the help of a relentless promotional campaign, built-in interest and general anticipation -- might attract a big enough portion of its billion-dollar Alice in Wonderland audience from the same release date three years ago to succeed in spite of the deficiencies of what's onscreen.
The journey of Oscar and his dull companions provides a bounty of opportunities for visual splendor -- on the ground, as in the Dark Forest, and in the air, when they travel via large transparent bubbles. As professional and accomplished as the effects appear in 3D, however, there is something almost cartoon-like about most of the scenery and backdrops, which are mostly placid and benign rather than spooky or threatening. Even the nasty flying monkeys (or baboons, as they seem to be here) possess none of the eerie malevolence that they did in all their wired splendor in the original film; here, they're mainly used for momentary 3D shock effects as they bare their fangs coming right at the camera. - Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter
Disney's fantastical adventure "Oz The Great and Powerful," directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum's beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. 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 and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well. The film lands in theaters March 8, 2013!
: This article was submitted by a volunteer contributor who has agreed to our code of conduct
. ComicBookMovie.com is protected from liability under "safe harbor" provisions and will disable users who knowingly commit plagiarism, piracy, trademark or copyright infringement. For expeditious removal, contact us HERE