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    3-D BLU-RAY REVIEW: Oz The Great and Powerful

    Disney's Prequel To The Classic Wizard Of Oz Hits Home Video...



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    There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home...and thankfully, Disney's gorgeous 3-D transfer of the magical adventure Oz The Great and Powerful delivers. Gorgeously brought to life in 3-D Blu-ray hi-def, the film - from impressive introduction to hallmark ending - engages, entertains and delights.

    When circus magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) hides himself in his hot air balloon during a Kansas tornado, he soon finds himself in a mystical land bearing his name. Filled with magic, witches, china dolls, flying monkeys and an emerald city the likes of which you've never seen, the Land of Oz introduces Oscar to a variety of unique characters including the young witch, Theodora (Mila Kunis), who mistakes Oz for the magician of prophesy. Seeking fame and fortune, Oz journeys to the Emerald City, where Theodora's older sister, Evanora (Rachel Weisz), plays royal adviser in anticipation of the land's true ruler, the Wizard of Oz. To tempt Oscar and rid herself of her arch-enemy, Evanora tasks Oscar with a grand adventure which includes killing the Wicked Witch. Of course, along the way, Oscar runs into an assortment of intriguing characters including the flying monkey Finley (Zach Braff) and the fragile doll China Girl (Joey King). But when the trio finally find the Wicked Witch, they're surprised to instead meet Glinda the Good (Michelle Williams), a witch banished and falsely accused by Theodora. Thus, with the help of Finley, China Girl, Glinda and the free people of Oz, the former con man turned hero Oscar must strive to save the land that shares his name and truly become Oz the Great and Powerful.

    Unfortunately, the film does have its issues. Quite obviously heavy on CGI, the film sadly suffers from the somewhat distracting older style, looking aged and out of place when compared to many of today's top-tier films. Likewise, the acting can, at times, come across as lackluster considering the roles being brought to life on screen. Franco, who picked up the leading man role after both Robert Downey Jr and Johnny Depp passed, shoulders a heavy burden and it shows. Both Kunis and Williams do a decent job, but it's Weisz who shines in her often frightening take on Evanora. Sadly, she's not featured nearly enough.

    As for video and audio, Oz is nothing short of phenomenal. I'm not normally a fan of 3-D films on home video as the gorgeousness of the big screen rarely finds reproduction at home. That said, Oz may be the rare exception. The impressive 1.33:1 opening - which immediately captures your attention - comes to life and for the remainder of the film's 130 minutes, you're mesmerized. The 3-D effect's depth bring to life the Land of Oz in ways one could hardly imagine. In fact, for those old-timer fans who remember watching The Wizard of Oz on the big screen, watching Oz the Great and Powerful on the small screen in 3-D might just give them a heart attack. Yes, it's that good. Likewise, the audio delivers as well with a dynamic DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track that will impress viewers with its use of the full sound stage. The flapping of flying monkey's wings, the cracking of china doll houses and the cackling of laughing witches surround viewers and who'll find themselves immersed by an impressive score throughout.

    As for special features, the 3-D release of Oz includes a variety accessible through Disney's new online Digital Copy Plus account. Once set up, viewers can access the same bonus features available on the 2-D Blu-ray release. These features include the 10-minute "Walt Disney and the Road to Oz," which discusses the studio's path towards creating the film; the 22 minute "My Journey in Oz, by James Franco," which is a video diary of sorts featuring Franco on the set; the 5-minute "China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief," which shows the creation of the film's porcelain doll character and voice actress Joey King; the 11-minute "Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas to Oz," which shows the creation of the Land of Oz, including visual effects, costumes, sets, and more; the 8-minute "Metamorphosis," which shows the change which overcomes the Wicked Witch using prosthetics; the 7-minute "Mr. Elfman's Musical Concoctions," which focuses on composer Danny Elfman and the film's score and 5-minutes of Bloopers.

    While it might have it's ups and downs, Oz The Great and Powerful is wondeful film with plenty of excitement, fun and etertainment for the whole family. A masterpiece of 3-D home video; it's beautiful to watch and enjoyable for all ages. Available in various packages and across all formats - including 3-D Blu-ray, 2-D Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy - Oz The Great and Powerful - is available now wherever fine home video is sold.

    - Jess C. Horsley


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