Books on the Big Screen: Oz movie reviews

March 08, 2013|By Dave Rosenthal

L. Frank Baum's classic about a wonderful wizard is getting a new look, in a movie prequel called "Oz: The Great & Powerful." This isn't a true adaptation -- in fact, Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion and other key characters do not even appear, and references to Baum's work are kept to a minimum. Early reactions show that the movie may be more appealling to general sudiences than to critics.

It's a reimagining of the background of the huckster who is swept away to a magical land and is thrust into an uncomftable role as leader. It follows the hugely succcessful "Wicked," a long-running Brodway show that provided the backstory to the relationship between the good and bad witches of Oz.

Here are exceprts from some reviews:

Tribune: This is an uneven but agreeably managed blockbuster, better than the last one ("Jack the Giant Slayer") aiming for the same demographic. ... As a series of sights, which movies like these are, "Oz the Great and Powerful" is more like "Oz the Digital and Relentless." Certainly this is true in its final half-hour, which seemed to me to be all explosions.

Los Angeles Times: Sometimes sweet, sometimes scary, sometimes sour, "Oz the Great and Powerful" is a film that doesn't know its own mind. A partially effective jumble whose elements clash rather than cohere, this solid but not spectacular effort stubbornly refuses to catch fire until it's almost too late.

San Francisco Chronicle: Here you'll find the 3-D almost as good as Ang Lee's "Life of Pi," with the three dimensions in service of a much better story. Screenwriters David Lindsay-Abaire and Mitchell Kapner devise a satisfying history for "Oz," supposedly by going back to L. Frank Baum's books. But watching the movie, it becomes pretty clear that they kept the 1939 classic in mind, thought about what might have happened years before and let their imaginations rip. That's why the more you like the Judy Garland film, the more you might appreciate "Oz the Great and Powerful."

Washington Post: As an origin story, “Oz the Great and Powerful” comes up with some interesting theories, especially having to do with the Wicked Witch of the East and her green-skinned sister. But mostly, this movie seems designed merely to up an already bloated special-effects ante, from the now-30-percent-more-terrifying flying monkeys to a prolonged, explosive climactic sequence.

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