Oz the Great and Powerful
(Not that great and powerful)
Sam Raimi's prequel to one of the best movies of all time is clever and interesting, but unfortunately is not all that great and powerful.
James Franco gives a fairly good performance as Oscar, a carnival magician and con man in 1905. The two-hour movie opens with a small screen, black and white scene at a Kansas carnival. We are introduced to Oscar, a conniving, womanizing charlatan who escapes from an angry crowd in a hot air balloon and flies into a tornado.
The screen expands, and Oscar finds himself in the magical, colorful land of Oz, where he takes a spectacular journey through mountains, waterfalls and rivers before being greeted by Glinda, the good witch (Michelle Williams). Glinda mistakes Oscar for the wizard that was destined to come to Oz to save the townspeople from the Wicked Witch of the West.
Like the original "Wizard of Oz", all the people Oscar meets look like the folks from back in Kansas.
The next hour or so finds Glinda and Oscar traveling along the yellow brick road, meeting new friends and enemies along the way, traveling through the Dark Forest on their way to Emerald City. A winged monkey and a ceramic doll become their travel mates.
After their long and sometimes boring trek, they come down to the big battle to save the townspeople from the wicked witch. How they do it is pretty original and ties in with the end of Dorothy's encounter with the wizard years later. Oscar has the chance to redeem himself and they live happily ever after.
The special effects and 3D are very good, and the kids in the audience laughed and even clapped.
Rated PG with some scenes that could scare the younger kids.