The 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz is without doubt a much-loved classic. So the idea to create a modern ‘prequel’ was always going to be a risky venture.
Thankfully, Disney and director Sam Raimi have treated the subject matter with the respect it needed.
While this Oz story won’t be regarded as another classic, it certainly entertains successfully enough.
It also cleverly attempts to keep the same ‘feel’ of the original, with a black and white start, and some backdrops that look like they were created in the 30s (on purpose I hope).
The story revolves around Oz himself (played by James Franco). He is a travelling circus magician who thinks about no one but himself.
He is forced to run away from the circus strongman by jumping into a hot air balloon which heads into a tornado.
After a bery exciting ride (one of the best parts of the film) he is transported into the colourful and magical world of Oz.
There he meets three witches who claim he is part of a prophesy that will herald a new age and the defeat of the Wicked Witch.
The problem is, which is the wicked one?
On his journey he meet a flying monkey (voiced by Zach Braff) and a delightful china doll (voiced by Joey King).
The witches (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams) are excellent and quite scary at times.
Franco isn’t perhaps the perfect person for the main role but gives it his best shot.
While the story relates strongly to the 1939 movie, it doesn’t have anything to do with the plot of the popular musical ‘Wicked’.
This latest Oz tale is in 3D and actually uses the effect properly to enhance the story rather than as a clever gimmick.
Overall, it’s a pleasant and charming movie that will keep audiences of all ages entertained. But it will leave you with the feeling that you need to see Judy Garland once more.
Film details: Oz the Great and Powerful (PG) 130mins
Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: James Franco, Zach Braff, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams.
Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley