I remember watching "The Wizard of Oz" every year on TV as a kid. It was a real treat, especially in an era when there were no DVD players or even VCRs. (Man, I feel old!) I still enjoy the movie as a film fan. It remains a beautiful visual film, and it opened the minds of the world to what films could do. I was looking forward to "Oz, The Great And Powerful" as a potential prequel of sorts to the story that we all know. Does it deliver? Yes, but it has one gaping flaw.
That flaw is James Franco.
I have never been blown away by Franco in other movies, but I didn't mind him. In this movie he really got on my nerves. He's not right for this role, in my opinion. I'll leave it at that.
In contrast to that, Mila Kunis is great as Theodora, one of Oz's mysterious witches. She has a tragic sort of story, and I found myself drawn into it. Rachel Weisz is also good as Evanora, and Michelle Williams is stateky and beautiful as Glinda. Zach Braff, who mostly appears as a CGI monkey, is even better than Franco.
From a visual standpoint, "Oz" is full of color and texture, even if it occasionally looks too artificial. It's a decent story, and it's entertaining enough. As much as it is able, "Oz" pays homage to the 1939 movie and tries to feel like at least a distant cousin. I saw the standard version, but I'm sure it would look good in 3D or even IMAX.
If it weren't for Franco, I would rate "Oz, The Great And Powerful" 82/100. Unfortunately, Franco brings it down to 78/100. It's a good family film, but it might be a bit scary for very young kids. Playing locally at AMC New Lenox Showplace, Marcus Orland Park, and Cinemark Louis Joliet Mall.