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James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, and Rachel Weisz headline director Sam Raimi’s prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Can they bring magic back to the land of Oz or will it fall short and become flat?

Oz the Great and Powerful reels you in with a sweeping landscape that is aided by vibrant 3-D and the directing hand of Sam Raimi but sometimes forgets that to make a story great you need characters that keep up with the powerful 3-D being thrown in your face.

Oz is never bad but it leaves so much to be had especially with a strong acting cast as well as great people behind the camera. The film follows Oz (James Franco) who is wisked away into the land of Oz, much like Dorothy, with a tornado and thrown into the power struggle between feuding sisters (Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz).

The story is fine but pacing and execution is what hurts it most. The characters were never developed enough for me to care for them.

This film reminded me a lot of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland based on the fact that it was a re-imagining of a well known universe and was re-imagined heavily using 3-D. Alice was flat and while the visuals were great, the characters were boring or unnecessary and the story was rushed and felt over before anything real developed. Oz suffered from the same problem with only the characters standing out over Alice.

I hated this because the land of Oz could be am interesting place to explore and I felt that they were leaving out that exploration for later movies. While I understand that, we are still entering a world that everyone knows from the Yellow Brock Road to the Emerald City there are many callbacks that the movie could of had to let fans of the original film happy and still keep the story along. I respect the different direction that they tried to go but it didn’t work and left me unsatisfied with Oz.

While I did not like the story too much, the characters worked alright. Franco was much better than expected and was a solid Wizard by the end of the film. Williams stood out as the best of the witches mainly because she wasn’t over the top. Weisz was almost annoyingly over the top and Kunis was trying way too hard at times. The performances probably hindered my interest in the story because of this.

In the end, Oz is mindless fun and while it wasn’t anything special, it is still worth seeing as a rental. It takes you to Oz even if it didn’t explore as much as desired and hopefully lays the groundwork for better sequels.

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