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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We're off to see how the Wizard came to be
A few decades back now, Disney tried a new Oz movie, in the shape of Return To Oz [DVD] [1985]. Now they've brought in Director Sam Raimi to have a go at a prequel.

The story of this movie takes place before the Wizard of Oz. It's all about the Wizard himself. And how he came to be there.

Therefore fans of the Frank L. Baum books will not find much...
Published 17 months ago by Paul Tapner

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Style over substance? Maybe
I'd like to start by saying this is the first film I've watched on DVD and been annoyed I didn't bother seeing it in 3D at the cinema.
Visually it is stunning and you can see how the 3D aspects were built into the story not just tacked on. Unlike other visual show pieces, like the god-awful Avatar, this does have some charm beyond its looks.
Story wise the film...
Published 16 months ago by Jakeisthecoolest


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Style over substance? Maybe, 31 July 2013
By 
Jakeisthecoolest "Jake" - See all my reviews
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I'd like to start by saying this is the first film I've watched on DVD and been annoyed I didn't bother seeing it in 3D at the cinema.
Visually it is stunning and you can see how the 3D aspects were built into the story not just tacked on. Unlike other visual show pieces, like the god-awful Avatar, this does have some charm beyond its looks.
Story wise the film is in a difficult place as it tries to find a place in the vast landscape of the Oz cannon, from Frank Baum's original novels to the 1939 film classic, from the recent Gregory McGuire books to the stage musical of said books. The problem is that we have too many per-conceived ideas of what should happen in the story, and while it does well to tie all the threads together satisfactorily, it means it fails to spread its own monkey wings and fly.
Still a great film but maybe not the classic it could of been.
Decent extras.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We're off to see how the Wizard came to be, 2 July 2013
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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A few decades back now, Disney tried a new Oz movie, in the shape of Return To Oz [DVD] [1985]. Now they've brought in Director Sam Raimi to have a go at a prequel.

The story of this movie takes place before the Wizard of Oz. It's all about the Wizard himself. And how he came to be there.

Therefore fans of the Frank L. Baum books will not find much they'd recognise from those in here, aside from the setting and certain characters, since this is an all new story that tries it's best to fit the style of the world Frank L. Baum created. If you're a literary purist then whether or not this succeeds at doing that will be a matter of individual opinion.

The Wizard is actually Oscar Diggs [James Franco]. When we meet him it's in America in 1905, and he's a small time carnival magician, with somewhat dubious ethics and dreams of making it big.

Like the original Wizard of Oz movie, this has all the scenes in our world filmed in black and white. It also adopts a few of the technical tricks and styles of much older cinema in these moments. Which is a very nice touch.

James Franco does manage to carry the film very well and makes for a decent lead right from the off.

Fate conspires to bring him to Oz. Which is where it goes into colour and more modern cinema styles. Making the acquaintance of two witches [Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz] and a flying monkey, he finds that everyone is expecting the arrival of a great wizard. And that Oz is a land with problems.

Setting out to deal with these, he picks up another travelling companion along the way. But who can he trust? And he can take this opportunity to be the great man he's always dreamed of becoming?

The story of this is obvious from the start. A few movies have done the story of a would be great man who gets into a situation where they can become one, boasts, lets people down, and then comes back and saves the day. But this doesn't follow all the story beats from that style, so that does give it points for originality.

The supporting cast are all pretty good. Some of the cgi creations work extremely well. And there are enough twists and turns in the plot and character development to keep it all moving along very nicely, all in time for a decent finale.

It's definitely worth it for the visuals, though. Which make Oz every bit the colourful and eye catching land that it should be. There's always something new coming along on screen to capture your attention.

Certain things and characters can't appear in this due to copyright reasons [the fact that a studio other than Disney holds the rights to the Wizard of Oz movie] but you might get into this enough to not miss them too much.

Any great fantasy should keep you spellbound all the way through and leave you appreciative by the end. When I saw this in a rather crowded cinema, most of the audience burst into - genuine - applause at the end. So this would certainly seem to do that job. There may be one or two moments that very young viewers might find scary, but not too many. This is a very good effort at creating a magical and fantastical cinema experience. Which makes it worth 4/5.

Older viewers who are familiar with the Director's work might wonder if a few of the actors whom he usually uses crop up in here. Just keep your eyes peeled and listen carefully....

The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:

Languages: English, Russian, Ukranian.

Subtitles: English, Estonian, Greek, Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian, Ukranian.

The disc begins with quite a few trailers. These can be skipped by pressing the next button on the dvd remote control. You can see all of them in the sneak peeks section of the dvd main menu anyhow.

There are just two extras:

A four minute long reel of outtakes. The sound quality on some of these isn't great. But a few are quite funny.

Walt Disney and the Road to Oz. A nine minute long feature about Disney's original attempt to make an Oz movie back in the 1950's. This is absolutely fascinating hitherto generally unknown movie history. If you're into that, it's well worth a watch.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OZ has never looked so good in 3D!, 5 Sep 2013
By 
Mr. L. Moreland (Winnersh,Berks, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Oz the Great and Powerful (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray) [Region A & B & C] (Blu-ray)
Having missed this at the cinema I was looking forward to getting the 3D DVD. After weeks of waiting for the price to drop I finally made my purchase, and was glad I did!

The film, a prequel to 'The wizard of Oz', tells of the magician (played magnificently by James Franco) and his journey to Oz and how he came to be the wizard. It is a great tale and fun for everyone, although as a PG may be too scary for the little ones. The effects and top notch as is the acting and the 3D if terrific!

There are tons of special features and also comes with standard Bluray disc.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great scenery, great film!, 3 Sep 2013
By 
Philip Ion - See all my reviews
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I really enjoyed this film. As a general rule, prequels can be quite tricky to make, with the outcome effectively already being known from the previous work, but this ties in quite well with it. The way the Wizard appears in a cloud of smoke towards the end is just how he appeared to Dorothy and her friends in the old film, while him presenting gifts to his friends at the end also provides an excellent cross-reference to the items he gave to Dorothy's companions.

If I have one criticism of The Wizard of Oz, it's that the scenery looks very artificial due to it having been filmed indoors with physical sets, given the limited technology of the time. However, thanks to modern advances and CGI, the landscape in this film is much more convincing whilst still looking like a fantasy world. (Return To Oz looked more realistic, but probably a bit too so in that it didn't look much like a make-believe land). The Emerald City in particular looks much more like a proper city than in the old film and the effects really are amazing!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent prequel, 31 Mar 2014
By 
Mr. Stephen Redman (York England) - See all my reviews
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An excellent prequel that sets up the Wizard of Oz. A genuine story in its own right, this plot is good and well acted. I cannot imagine why you wouldn't enjoy watching this, especially if you like the original. This isn't a musical though(!)
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43 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oz-some!, 10 April 2013
I unapologetically loved this film! I've never been a friend of Dorothy, however the sheer spectacle, joyous performances, and sense of fun that exude from Sam Raimi's latest offering must surely be appreciated by all but the most cynical viewer. James Franco's leering con artist is transformed into an honest man through his bizarre experiences in the magical Land of Oz, after being whisked there by a freak tornado. Mila Kunis has to be the sexiest witch ever committed to celluloid - for the first part of the film anyhow, and Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams are both perfectly cast as her fellow enchantresses. Add in Zach Braff's lachrymose flying monkey, a sentient china doll, and a host of nefarious Emerald City guardians, and you have a movie that warms the heart through and through, whilst also having plenty of tongue-in-cheek humour to lessen the inherent cheesiness of the script; great stuff!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Oh God,they keep on doing it....., 19 Aug 2014
The development of digital special effects in cinematography marks the beginning of a new era.The era where the imagination of the producers and directors can really ran wild.They realised that they have in their possession a magnificent tool which enables them to work visual miracles.
How they use this tool is another matter altogether.
Brilliantly,as they did in Avatar or The Lord of the Rings.
Pointlessly,as in this one and so many others.
What is the one thing that makes the whole difference ?
"Elementary,my dear Watson".The script.
In the 1939 masterpiece,"The wizard of OZ",the use of characters was truly inspired as well as inspiring.Dorothy was ,by no means,the deciding factor.It was the three brilliantly conceived "sidekicks",the Scarecrow,the Tin Man,and the cowardly Lion that did the trick.Three characters full of interest,depth and emotion ,three symbols of what can be achieved if one is willing to fight his demons and triumph over adversity.Aye,Judy Garland was great,the yellow brick road dreamy,and the music swept one away.But it was the heroes that gave the movie the character that made it an all time classic.
What did they "invent"to replace that magic with in this"modified version" ?
Crap.Insignificant crap.
A leading actor who could not be less likable if he tried.Two sidekicks that are nothing but two meaningless zeros.A flying monkey dressed as a bellhop (!) and a living porcelain girlie doll.Which they "pluck out of nowhere",as they have no peers,no purpose,no origins,no character ,nothing.They mean nothing.Sure we have three witches(the evil witch,the beautiful Rachel Weisz is always a pleasure to watch)of which the good witch is as insignificant as the sidekicks.And how does mr.Sam Reimi "directs" his actors? I don't think he really bothers at all.He's got his special effects and he is happy as a child in the womb with them.
The only possible excuse I can think of is that the movie's main audience "target group"was from 4 to 12 years of age.I fail to see why adults should bother watcing this movie.If for no other reason,at least as a sign of respect for the 1939 classic the producers/director have so blatantly disrespected in making this parody.
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5.0 out of 5 stars OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL 3D [2013] [Blu-ray 3D + Digital Copy] [US Import], 30 Sep 2013
This review is from: Oz the Great and Powerful (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray) [Region A & B & C] (Blu-ray)
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL 3D [2013] [Blu-ray 3D + Digital Copy] [US Import] A Dazzling Brand-New Classic!

Feel the magic of ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ surround you as it soars off the screen and lands in your living room in this spectacular and stunning awesome 3D Blu-ray – the absolute best you can get to view in your home.

Disney’s fantastical adventure, from the director of the ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy, follows Oscar Diggs [James Franco], a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics. When Oscar Diggs is hurled away to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot – until he meets three witches [Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams], who aren’t convinced he’s the great wizard everyone’s expecting. Reluctantly drawn into epic problems facing Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar Diggs must find out who is good and who is evil before it’s too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity – and even some wizardry – Oscar Diggs transforms himself into the great wizard and a better man as well.

Cast: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Bill Cobbs, Joey King, Tony Cox (Knuck), Stephen R. Hart, Abigail Spencer, Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, Tim Holmes, Toni Wynne, Rob Crites, William Dick, Gene Jones, John Lord Booth III, Brian Searle, Russell Bobbitt, Julius Kline III, Stevie Lee Richardson, Martin Klebba, Dan Hicks, Mike Estes, Chidi Ajufo, Hans Ihlenfeldt, Alexander Christopher Jones and Roy Kellerman Jr.

Director: Sam Raimi

Producers: Joe Roth, Grant Curtis, Joshua Donen, Philip Steuer and Palak Patel

Screenplay: David Lindsay-Abaire, Mitchell Kapner and Frank L. Baum (original story)

Composer: Danny Elfman

Cinematography: Peter Deming

Video Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 black-and-white and 2.40:1

Audio: English: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital, English: 5.1 Dolby Digital and English: 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

Running Time: 130 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Sam Raimi's epic fantasy prequel conjures up a new benchmark for 3D Blu-ray. Given the reverence so many fans have for the legendary 1939 MGM musical, it's no surprise that some consider any plans to do a prequel to ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to be completely sacrilegious.

But somehow writer David Lindsay-Abaire and Michael Kapner and director Sam Raimi have managed to magic up a dizzying and manically inventive fantasy film that feels like a natural part of the universe Frank L. Baum created. By exploring the origin of the Wizard, this blockbuster prequel feels fresh and unpredictable, whilst also delivering plenty of nods and winks for fans of the original film (and Frank L. Baum's books).

More delightful is the film's 3D presentation, which actually makes for a very entertaining experience. Though built on the backs of endless 3D gimmicks, there's a delirious energy to all the carnivorous plants, dive-bombing monkeys, surging rapids, toothy river fairies, jutting emerald crystals, and billowing fireballs to thoroughly demonstrate Sam Raimi's penchant for 3D showmanship. The camera leaps and swoops, glides and falls; the creatures of Oz charge and lunge, pounce and attack; cities and towns loom and extend into the distance, while endless fields of flowers, dark forests and sprawling mountain ranges disappear into the horizon. What Oz the Great and Powerful lacks in cohesion and inspiration, it tacks on with feverish, sometimes dizzying 3D, and it's clear that Sam Raimi's Oz was built to take full advantage of the format, from the ground up. The added assault on the senses even distracts from some of the film's bigger problems, making its 2D counterpart feel even flatter and less whimsical. Is the 3D version of the film the wonderful wizard Disney and the filmmakers hoped it would be? Perhaps in part, but it still falls short. It may take a sequel to prove Sam Raimi and company truly have something up their sleeves.

Buoyed by game performances from all the principals and Sam Raimi's energetic direction, ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ is a fun slice of fantastical whimsy wrapped up in dazzling layers of 3D eye-candy. So, even if it doesn't really measure up to the original, it's still a whole lot of magical and exciting fun.

Blu-ray Video Quality – Step aside ‘AVATAR’ there is a new king of 3D Blu-ray. Disney's stunning awesome encoded stereoscopic presentation of ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ 3D not only sets a new technical benchmark for the format – the native 3D photography is so involving that it easily makes the film more enjoyable that the 'flat' version.

The sheer depth of the image and the volumetric dimensionality of everything inhabiting it is frankly awe-inspiring. Nothing about it feels forced or hokey (not even the odd out-of-the-screen moment such as the lion in Chapter 13); it just feels perfectly natural.

Colour presentation is probably the most vibrant we've seen in a 3D presentation and fills the widescreen 2.40:1 at all times (at least it does from Chapter 8 when the action moves to Oz – prior to that it's 1.33:1 black-and-white). ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ 3D 1080p imagery is truly magical.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – The 3D presentations of the film are accompanied by what Disney is openly touting as a 'near-field' 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This indicates that the mix has been optimised for 'smaller' environments – but don't worry, this is something that Disney has apparently done with a lot of its mixes in the past (albeit without the labelling) and, as it happens, ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ 7.1 channel soundtrack is a match for the reference-quality visuals.

Admittedly, things start in a rather subdued mode, with the audio accompanying the monochrome opening being deliberately wedded to the front stereo spread. However, once our hero is sucked up by the tornado in Chapter 7 the full 7.1 mix explodes into life. Front and rear speakers are employed aggressively and consistently from that point onwards, building layer upon layer of audio in the sound field to dynamic effect.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: The 3D version contains no supplements whatsoever on the disc itself. Supplements cab only can be accessed through the Digital Copy Plus version of the film.

Walt Disney and the Road to Oz [Digital Copy Plus] [10:00] The studio and Uncle Walt's history with Oz, which traces back to the 1930s (when Snow White hinted at the success of feature fantasy), Disney's acquisition of the rights to fourteen Oz books, an abandoned 1950s musical adaptation (The Rainbow Road to Oz), and other milestones on the long and winding road to ‘Oz the Great and Powerful.’

My Journey in Oz, by James Franco [Digital Copy Plus] [22:00] This sorta-day-in-the-life video journal is more of a James Franco-hosted production documentary than anything else, and that's perfectly fine. James Franco does everything from discussing the film to interviewing Sam Raimi to going behind-the-scenes to reveal how practical and visual effects were used to realize Oz.

China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief [Digital Copy Plus] [5:00] Oz's porcelain doll springs to life by way of on-set marionettes, computer wizardry and the voice performance of young actress Joey King.

Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas to Oz [Digital Copy Plus] [11:00] The design, development and creation of the lands of Oz the Great and Powerful, from the film's visual aesthetic to its costumes, sets, environments, locations and grand vistas.

Metamorphosis [Digital Copy Plus] [8:00] Sam Raimi and company bring the Wicked Witch to sinister, cackling life with prosthetics that simultaneously accentuate, sharpen and mask the actress's facial features.

Mr. Elfman's Musical Concoctions [Digital Copy Plus] [7:00] Composer Danny Elfman and the film's score.

Bloopers [Digital Copy Plus] [5:00] Franco, Braff, Kunis and the rest of the cast ham it up.

Finally, ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ 3D never ascends to the heights of the original ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and unfortunately a lot of critics of this 3D Blu-ray say that is certainly won't ever be hailed as a timeless classic, but to me it is a beautiful modern day classic of the original masterpiece in cinema history. So it will be totally wrong to give this 2013 film comparison, is almost totally unfair, but sadly a lot of critics are all unfairly in precisely doing that comparison, which is totally out of order and makes me very angry and totally incensed, as it is a totally beautiful well-crafted film and especially in 3D, whereas the 2D looks totally flat, that is a must to view in 3D. Another thing that is making me so angry is the comments of critics of this marvellous film, saying that nothing quite clicks into place [rubbish] especially the script, the cast, the visual effects, which to my mind is a very harsh comment and have obviously been watching a different film to me. On top of all that I feel Sam Raimi eventually finds his footing with ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ 3D and hits a decent stride and finishes poised hopefully, for a sequel. The 3D version is even better and is a honestly a very exciting experience. Walt Disney's Blu-ray release is more consistent and satisfying experience of this film, and with an excellent video transfer, especially the terrific sumptuous 3D experience, and a very exciting strong 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround track. The 3D edition's extras are only available by way of Disney's new Digital Copy Plus online service, so that's a rather irritating hassle, but at least the content is still available in one way or another. All told, ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ 3D is a great and powerful prequel it could be, but it’s the Blu-ray debut and 3D AV awesome presentation, unite to become a formidable powerhouse. Very Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing, 9 July 2013
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This review is from: Oz the Great and Powerful (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray) [Region A & B & C] (Blu-ray)
Fantastic in 3D totally love it and its such a well thought out film. Totally watch it again. Such a great family film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a return to form, 5 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Oz the Great and Powerful (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray) [Region A & B & C] (Blu-ray)
I`ve always been too old to appreciate the sweetness of 'The Wizard Of Oz',so I just watched this because there was nothing else on.And was pleasantly surprised.This is not only a film aimed at children,but also at imaginative older Sam Raimi types.The silliness and pantomime elements are restricted to a short musical scene and the cackling of the Wicked Witch,who seems out of place in this modern take on the story.The cast is well chosen,the scenery beautiful and the witty dialogue is occasionally a little too elaborate for many children to understand.
I`ve never been impressed with James Franco until this film-Not only is he the lead but he`s playing a character whose moral compass is often trying to point in several directions at the same time.Mila Kunis is also very impressive,even though her character could be less silly-It`s my one real gripe-I suppose it has to pay homage to the original-but she nearly makes it work.The monkey and china girl are the best but they do get the best lines.
The Wizard is a trickster and those expecting big fight scenes,or a film like the Judy Garland original are likely to be disappointed,but this film is about brains and not brawn,and an attempt to recreate the original would only appeal to the biggest fans.With all those preconceptions and expectations maybe this film was never going to be a runaway success,but this is Raimis best film since Evil Dead 2.And that was 30 years ago.
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