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March 8th, 2013

Movie Review - Oz the Great and Powerful

OZ The Great and Powerful

Starring: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Bill Cobbs, Joey King, Tony Cox, Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, Stephen R Hart, and many more.

Directed by: Sam Raimi Screenplay by: Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abair Based on the novel by: L Frank Baum Cinematography by: Peter Deming Original Music by: Danny Elfman

Premise: A womanizing, part magician, part conman finds himself swept away from Kansas when his hot air balloon is caught by a raging tornado. Promising to reform if his life is spared, Oz ends up finding himself in a land unlike any he's traveled to before. He's found by the beautiful Theodora, who states his visit was prophesied long before, and that Oz will the the king of the Emerald City and all the riches it holds - if he first rids the land of the Wicked Witch. (Rated PG)


1) Acting - Thumbs Up: James Franco did great as the womanizing conman who wants to make good. Rachel Weisz was fun as the oily Evanora. Mila Kunis came across as incredibly sensual, while also dripping with innocence. Joey King was eerie in Kansas, but also a lot of fun as China Girl.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: Like the original "The Wizard of Oz" film from 1939, this one begins in a black and white Kansas but once we reach the Land of Oz, every thing is changed to vibrant color. The change was gradual, pushed on with the rising sun, and was marvelous to behold. In IMAX the colors almost scream off the screen.

The special effects team did a splendid job with the tornado. They showed both the lying calm which can be found withing and also the angry winds which raged and tore things apart into deadly projectiles. Certain moments were very reminiscent of the "The Wizard of Oz." Which was also something we saw over and over again as the film continued.

Oz's introduction to the Land of Oz will keep you captivated as he sees the land for the first time. The musical plants were utterly fascinating. The water fairies were incredibly cute, even with the sharp teeth.

The flying monkeys are now flying baboons, which made them that much more scary looking. The traveling soap bubbles and protective soap bubble shield were fun and looked amazing. China Girl was almost seamlessly a part of events showing in the screen and in her interactions with the actors. Add in the green lightning, the fireballs, the fog, and the giant field of poppies, and we got a special effects smorgasbord.

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: I've never read any of L Frank Baum's books, so I can't make any comments as to whether the film is true to his works or not. For those who cherish the 1939 film, however, I think you'll see a lot of similar treatments in this film as in that one, and bits of foreshadowing, which connect the two films on several levels. The way the credits are done at the beginning, Kansas in black and white, the appearance of characters in Oz who look like people Oz knows in Kansas, etc. The main major difference between the two is the lack of singing, though the Munchkins did at least get in a few verses.

The story itself was pretty simple and had several lessons to teach. On many levels it was imbued with innocence and naivete, in others, the total opposite. The horror of some of the things which had happened in OZ were dulled -- mentioned, and flashed with emotion by the characters, yet not visible, thus glossing it out for the younger viewers.

4) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: From the Baum Circus to the grand square in the Emerald City, the locations, whether real or not real, were perfect. The only thing found lacking was the yellow brick road itself. While it did exist, and we even got to see the same town square upon which Dorothy will later start her quest, the road itself did not stand out. In most ways, the yellow brick road appeared rather boring and not all that special, which was rather sad. The Poppy fields though were vast and amazing and did not disappoint. The spanning shot of the fog flowing over it and the 'warriors' starting across it was great.

5) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: Though not all that evident when Oz first reaches the Land of Oz, the more characters we meet, the more unique the dressing and hair styles became. With all the actor extras forming the main three types of people living with Glinda and then the citizens of the Emerald City, it the tremendous amount of work which had gone into giving the people of OZ a unique look of their own was very obvious . It seems a pity they didn't do the same with the three witches, who dressed rather generically by comparison.

Conclusion: "OZ the Great and Powerful" is a visual treat. Those who love the 1939 "The Wizard of Oz" will find much to like in this film. Watch for the cameos by Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi - a long standing tradition in Sam Raimi films.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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