I grew up watching The Wizard of Oz. In fact, my family and I watched The Wizard of Oz together once a year on TV before every household had a VCR and a collection of classic movies on VHS. I remember being terrified of the Wicked Witch. I even remember getting a little nervous during the scenes when the Wizard appeared as a large and menacing floating head. The Witch was evil, but the Wizard was mysterious. I just wasn’t sure what to think about him. Was he a good guy or a bad guy? I never made up my mind about the Wizard.
I was intrigued when I started seeing previews for Oz the Great and Powerful. I was interested to learn more about the mysterious Wizard of Oz and witness a unique spin on the classic story.
Years ago, I read Wicked AND saw the Broadway show and absolutely fell in love with the adaptation of the story we all know so well. When I heard about Oz the Great and Powerful, I had high hopes – the spin worked for Wicked. Why not for Oz?
Oz the Great and Powerful attempts to answer some of the questions, both about the Wizard and about some of the other characters, that we’re left wondering about after Baum’s Wizard of Oz story. While Dorothy and Toto don’t make an appearance in this movie, Oz the Great and Powerful sets the stage for the story we all know. Here’s the story line if you’re not already familiar with it –
Oz the Great and Powerful Synopsis
Disney’s fantastical adventure “Oz The Great and Powerful,” (rated PG) directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved wizard character. 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 wizard but into a better man as well.
What I thought of Oz the Great and Powerful
My husband and I had the chance to slip out to a theater in D.C. this past Monday to catch a screening of Oz the Great and Powerful. I was impressed before the first scene even started – the opening animation (is that what you call it?) in black and white hooked me immediately.
While the movie started off a little slow while we were being introduced to Oscar Diggs (Oz) in 1905 Kansas, the action picked right up as soon as Oscar was swept away to the Land of Oz. The scenery was impressive – the photos that I had seen prior to the movie didn’t to the magnificence of the “sets” justice. I loved the characters, and (dare I say it?) was honestly surprised by some of the character developments. I checked with my husband afterwards and he was caught off guard as well. Bravo, Disney!
Here’s the thing – Oz is not a very good man. He’s not even a “real” Wizard. He’s a brilliant man who is in the business of deceiving, and he’s more concerned with wealth and power than he is with doing the right thing. That said, I could see from the start that despite his misguided ways, he was a good man deep down…something that it takes Oz himself the whole movie to discover.
Should I see Oz the Great and Powerful in 3D?
Normally, I would opt to save money on 3D movies and simply see the movie in 2D. Not so with Oz the Great and Powerful. This was one of the first movies that I’ve watched in 3D where I was absolutely captivated by the 3D effects. I was impressed from the moment the opening credits began to roll – and it was all in black and white, no less. Even my 3D-cynical husband mentioned at the end of the movie that he actually enjoyed the 3D effects in Oz. And that is saying a lot.
I think the movie would lose a bit of its magic without the 3D, although you can be sure that I’ll be buying this on DVD several months down the road, and I’m sure we’ll still enjoy it at home, without 3D and off the big screen.
Should I take my kids to see Oz the Great and Powerful?
As a child, The Wizard of Oz scared me…but not enough to stop watching it. There were elements in Oz the Great and Powerful (namely the Wicked Witch’s evil flying monkeys, who were scarier than the Witch herself) that I felt were more scary than the “original” – probably simply because of the fact that movies these days are more realistic. If your child is scared by angry animal scenes (picture a mad baboon in your face) then this movie is probably not for them. There were several cases (again with the brilliant 3D effects) where the characters and elements on the screen seemed to be right in your face. I admit that it got intense, and intense scenes aren’t for everyone.
As far as other “child-appropriate” factors, I am pleased to say that there was no bad language or sexual scenes (the Wizard does kiss a few women, but only enough to warrant an “eww!” from your pre-teens). I would feel 100% comfortable with any of my kids (ages 7 and up) seeing the movie in theaters.
I walked away from the theater on a high – totally pumped up after seeing such a fantastic movie. And I can’t wait to see it again with my kids. I totally recommend it.
Oz The Great and Powerful opens in theaters on March 8, 2013
Oz the Great and Powerful family-friendly activity sheets
Get your whole family excited about the movie with these free printables, including a game of Spot the Difference, a maze, a Fenley the Monkey mask, and memory cards. Just click on any of the images below to go to a printable PDF of each activity.
Note: Screening seats, official photos and activity sheets were provided to me free of charge, but all opinions are my own.
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