OZ The GREAT And POWERFUL is consistently sparkling, and has a number of great elements, but when its 130 minutes are through with their eye-watering color parade, it’s like having a big chocolate malt for lunch: tastes great, but it’s not food. Hey, it’s better than The Wiz (the 11:00 News is better than The Wiz—and we wouldn’t wish Return To Oz on a flying monkey), but the nostalgia shadow of 1939 looms over this 2013 jumbo, which for all its game trying and mammoth outlay can’t quite summon the magic and charm of the cherished perennial. But…I’m not six years old—and neither are you—so maybe totlings of today will have the same experience with this splash that generations did with Judy Garland, Margaret Hamilton and those unruly MGM munchkins? “Ofcocerous!”
The art direction and set decoration are flat-out fabulous, and there are confident turns from Mila Kunis (WWW) and Rachel Weisz (WWE), though James Franco as the shyster who becomes the Wizard, and Michelle Williams as ‘Glinda’ (aka WWS) make less impact than needed. The ‘China Girl’, voiced by Joey King, makes for a sweet bit of Pretend: when your heartstrings get plucked by a talking porcelain doll, perhaps all is not lost to terminal Grownupdom….
Directed with obvious affection and definite energy by Sam Raimi, it’s got $215,000,000 worth of visual razzmatazz, and audiences answered back with $493,300,000–or 176 times the budget for the original The Wizard Of Oz.
With Zach Braff, Tony Cox, Bill Cobbs and Bruce Campbell. Music by Danny Elfman (who else?), Production Design by Robert Stromberg.