Oz, The Great and Powerful: Movie Review

March 12th, 2013 by

oz-the-great-and-powerfulThe yellow brick road. The Emerald City. Flying monkeys. Poppy fields. Munchkins. And of course, witches. All our favorite parts of the marvelous land of Oz come to life again in the new movie Oz, The Great and Powerful. But can it live up to the classic books by L. Frank Baum and the beloved 1939 film?

Obviously, we had to investigate. So we bravely made our way through the crowds to see Oz on opening night — seriously, there were more excited movie-goers fighting for seats than warts on a witch’s chin. And were we rewarded for our efforts?

Read on, for our review of Oz, The Great and Powerful:

KAREN: I was pleasantly surprised! Before we watched the movie, I knew it didn’t get very good reviews, so I went in with low expectations.


KAREN: I thought it was going to try to be an awesome epic action adventure, and it would fail. But I realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t trying to be that at all; instead, it wanted to be a funny fantastical family film! So once I realized that in the first few scenes, I was all like:


KAREN: And now that I think about it, I kind of got that feeling right from the beginning because I LOVED LOVED LURVED the opening sequence with all the old-fashioned paper art. It was so light-hearted and whimsical and I was like:


NANCY: I agree with most of what you said — but one thing really distracted me during the movie, and that, unfortunately, was the actor who played Oscar (the Wizard): James Franco. I found him to be so goofy and distracting! Every time he overacted, I would wince, like this:


NANCY: So since he was the main character and on the screen all the time, this is how I felt for most of the movie:


KAREN: I’m not a big James Franco fan either. Originally, Robert Downey Jr. was going to play Oscar, and I was super excited about that. When I heard he was replaced with James Franco, I was definitely like:


KAREN: I think James Franco is kind of fakey and slimy — but actually, that was perfect for this role! So when I realized he was just going to act like a kind of silly, slick salesman through the whole thing, I was like:


NANCY: Agree to disagree… But on a positive note: As usual, I’m a sucker for visuals — I thought the film was beautiful! The scenes showing the gorgeous and magic scenery of Oz were kind of long, but I didn’t mind so much because I was like:


KAREN: Disagree again! I really didn’t love all the computer-generated settings, like the gigantic flowers and the green crystals that some of the characters floated over. It looked too obviously computer-generated to me, compared to how realistic Pixar makes nature look in their movies.


NANCY: Okay, well, maybe we can agree on this: You know what character I especially liked? The flying monkey servant, Finley. He was adorable! And so funny.


KAREN: YES! I loved Finley too. And also the little China Girl who is Oscar’s other main companion in the movie. And guess what — she’s voiced by Joey King, who played Ramona in the movie Ramona and Beezus! I recognized her name in the opening credits, and I was all like:


NANCY: Overall, I’m definitely on the fence about this movie. On one hand, I liked almost everything in the movie… EXCEPT the main character! I feel so conflicted:


So… should you see this movie? Neither of us would say, “This is the best movie ever! Run out and see it right now!” If we said that, you’d definitely end up like this:


But if you’re a fan of the books and/or you just want to see the world of Oz on the big screen in stunning technicolor, then we say, “Go for it. But for heaven’s sake, keep your expectations low!” As long as you do that, you’ll probably be like:



We can’t take credit for making any of these images — all taken from the Interwebs!

Movie News: Oz, The Great and Powerful

August 4th, 2011 by

Have you ever gotten so excited that you couldn’t formulate a clear sentence and just ended up squawking nonsensical phrases? Or maybe when you heard some amazing news, you expelled spit and it dribbled down your chin?

No? Is that only me? Awkward…

Well, as you can tell, sometimes I get a little overzealous. And when I get like that, I want to share my delight with the world! It was this emotion that led me to write this post as soon as I heard the news about two upcoming Wizard of Oz movies. But that was over a year ago, and now it turns out that I was a little too early to the game because Disney has just made an announcement about one of the movies — with a major change from what I reported:

In Oz: The Great and Powerful, the lead role will be played by… James Franco! Not Robert Downey Jr., as I previously reported. Whoops.

And here’s some more news about the movie, from the official press release:

Image from Huffington Post

Oz: The Great and Powerful 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.

Doesn’t that just make you excited enough to spit? Well, unfortunately we still have a while to wait before this wizard takes to the big screen; the movie is set to release March 8, 2013.

But at least that gives us plenty of time to discuss the cast! So… what do YOU think? Will James Franco make a good magician-wizard? And what about Michelle Williams as the famous Glinda the Good Witch? Leave a comment with your opinion!

— Karen

Karen once worked with James Franco’s mom without even knowing it — she’s children’s book author Betsy Franco! Every once in a while, Karen thinks about her missed chance to meet James Franco. Because they clearly would have been perfect together. Obviously.

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Breaking Book News: TWO Wizard of Oz Movies

June 17th, 2010 by

Okay, so remember how last month I totally bagged on Hollywood, saying that they never have any new ideas and all their movies are based on books? Well, guess what — they’re at it again! (Told you so!)

This time, the latest book-to-big-screen news is all about TWO new adaptations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum:

First off, a 3D animated film is in the works, and it was just announced that Lea Michele from Glee will do Dorothy’s voice! Isn’t that amazing? It made me feel amused, I have been browsing a list of mini projectors to prepare to take the movie experience to a whole new level, imagine at home watching a 3D movie with just a projector. Anyway, the movie, Dorothy of Oz, is a continuation of the original Wizard of Oz story, with Dorothy returning to Oz to find the land in decay and her friends — Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion — missing in action.

The film is actually based on a book that was written by Roger Baum, the great-grandson of original Oz author L. Frank Baum. I’ve never read it, but apparently there are many new characters, including a man made of marshmallows and named Marshall Mallow. Hello, can you say AWESOME? Except… if he’s a good guy, don’t you think it would be hard to keep yourself from eating him?

Anyway… Dorothy of Oz is set to release in April 2012.

The second upcoming Oz movie is a prequel film from Disney. It will be directed by Sam Raimi (who directed Spider-Man). And Robert Downey Jr. will star!

The movie will be called Oz, The Great and Powerful and tell the story of the Wizard himself, who apparently was transported to Oz by a tornado (not unlike Dorothy). When he got there, the people of Oz mistook him for a great and powerful wizard that they had been waiting for. And I suppose he didn’t bother to correct them! Well, actually, I don’t know; that’s just my guess based on the fact that he’s the Wizard when Dorothy gets there. But it looks like we’ll have to watch the movie to find out! Unfortunately, there’s not even a start date for work on the film, so we might have to wait a while…

But in the meantime, you can get ready for both these movies by stocking up your bookshelf! Not only is there the Dorothy of Oz book by Roger Baum, but did you know that L. Frank Baum himself wrote a bunch of sequels to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? Including the original classic, he wrote 14 Oz books in total!

As a kid, I actually owned a copy of Book 2, The Marvelous Land of Oz, and I can still picture the book cover in my mind: a boy and some dude with a Jack-o-Lantern for a face, riding on a crazy furniture creature as it flies through the air. (That would be Tip and Jack Pumpkinhead riding on a Gump, FYI.)

Unfortunately, I can’t find an image of that cover anywhere online (I swear I’m not making it up!), so you’ll just have to make do with this photo of the original cover. Too bad it’s not quite as action-packed as the version I had. But if you’re intrigued (and I hope you are), you can read the whole book for free online! Ain’t the Internet a wonderful thing?

— Karen

Karen’s favorite actress used to be Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in the 1939 movie. In fact, Karen used to bounce up and down on the couch and shout, “It’s Judy Garland! It’s Judy Garland!” whenever she came onscreen. This is what comes of having a father who loves musicals — total geekiness at an early age.
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