Oz the Great and Powerful

Sam Raimi's Oz the Great and Powerful is the latest in a series of A-list directors' forays into top tier cinematic wizardry. The most noteworthy entries have been Scorsese's Hugo,  Spielberg's Adventures of Tin Tin and Ang Lee's Life of Pi, which won Lee the Best Director Oscar this year. Sam Raimi may not be as lauded as that trio but in about 30 years he has grown from low-budget horror flick visionary (The Evil Dead [1981]) to small canvas auteur (A Simple Plan [1998] and The Gift [2000]) and blockbuster craftsman (Spider-Man, S-M2, and S-M3). Oz the Great and Powerful is his latest and it has moment of visual sumptuousness and tender homages to the Victor Fleming original Wizard (1939) but in the end, to me, its Disney-fied one-world sentimentality seemed an odd companion to its outsized technological trickery. In other words, it's a stupendous piece of eye-candy that's just not very filling. To that end, the CGI creations of the flying monkey bellhop (voiced by Scrubs' Zach Braff) and the little china doll (voiced by child actress Joey King) are the most entrancing characters in the whole film, which boasts James Franco as Oz, uber-beauty Mila Kunis as Theodora, the good girl gone bad witch; Rachel Weisz as Evanora, Theodora's thoroughly bad witch sister; and Michelle Williams as Glinda, the sticky sweet good witch in a bubble. Yes, do take the kids. There's no blood but some frightening flying mandrills that might spook the really little ones.


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