Tag: oz the great and powerful

Oz The Great And Powerful is out today, so in tribute here is our list of the top 10 practitioners of magic from Disney’s illustrious back catalogue.

10) Balthazar Blake – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

This movie was a bit of a box office bomb, but who can resist Nic Cage playing a bedraggled, immortal wizard with all his drawling nonsense?

9) Merlin – The Sword in the Stone

Merlin is not just a wizard, but also a bit of a nerd. He wants the young Arthur to learn the importance of intelligence over physical might, and is awesome at packing. He also knows how to deal with pompous talking owls.

8) Queen Grimhilde – Snow White

If they gave out medals for murderous narcissism, this wicked witchy monarch would win one, then polish it until she could gaze at her reflection in its surface.

7) Rafiki – The Lion King

A baboon witch doctor who can read prophecies, paint with fruit and do martial arts? Yes please!

6) Ursula – The Little Mermaid

Who’s afraid of a tubby octo-lady who can go Godzilla on your ass if you misbehave? Millions of children and at least a few sensitive adults, that’s who.

5) Luke Skywalker – Star Wars

SHUT UP LUKE SKYWALKER IS SO A WIZARD! And Disney owns him, so he belongs in this list.

4) The Wizard – The Wizard of Oz

The precursor to James Franco’s Oscar Diggs was of course the original Wizard of Oz. Although he’s a trickster and a charlatan in the eyes of some, his illusions have the same impact as real magic, so what’s the difference?

3) Maleficent – Sleeping Beauty

Winner of the Best Villain’s Name prize 1959, you can’t help but wonder why someone who refers to themselves as the ‘mistress of all evil’ would even expect to be invited to the christening of a vulnerable, privileged baby. It would have been very irresponsible of the parents, for a start.

2) Jafar – Aladdin

If Disney’s Aladdin taught us anything as kids, it was that you can never trust a vizier. With a rad beard and a cool cobra-tipped cane, this bloke lives and breathes evil. It’s a wonder that anyone trusted him near royalty.

1) Mickey Mouse – Fantasia

Oh hubris, thy name is Mickey Mouse! Don’t you know that you shouldn’t attempt advanced spells without proper magical instruction? At least you’ve got musical accompaniment for your mischief.

Last week the director and stars of Disney's Oz The Great And Powerful descended on London to talk about the movie in front of the assembled media.

You can watch the full half hour press conference here to find out what inspired Sam Raimi to revive this iconic franchise, how the costumes inspired the actresses in their roles and whether or not Mila Kunis is going to be living up to rumours and taking a role in the 50 Shades of Grey adaptation. Hint: she's still denying any involvement, but Zach Braff jokingly expressed interest in taking her place.

Oz The Great And Powerful is out at cinemas everywhere today and you can read our full review here.

Video courtesy of Red Carpet News TV.

Sam Raimi directs a colourful and occasionally terrifying 3D prequel. But is it good?

Oz the Great and Powerful is a comrade of Avatar, in that the dizzying ambition and impressive execution of the technical aspects completely eclipse the weakness of the script and performances. If you love films that push the boundaries of what modern cinematic wizardry can achieve, then this will be ideal. But anyone with a fondness for the original Wizard of Oz, or the books upon which it’s based, might find less to get excited about.

James Franco plays Oscar ‘Oz’ Diggs, a magician with a travelling fair who dreams of greatness while pulling off hack tricks to tiny crowds in rural Kansas. When he’s caught up in a tornado whilst aboard a hot air balloon, he’s transported to a mystical land and is sucked into a quest to kill a wicked witch, thus allowing him to claim his place on the throne of Emerald City.

For the first 20 minutes the movie is projected in 4:3 black and white, with mono sound and what Sam Raimi describes as ‘dialled-back’ 3D effects. This is obviously intended to emulate the famous transition from monochrome to colour that occurs in the original, and indeed once we get to Oz the colour seeps in, along with widescreen, surround sound and deeper dimensions. It’s a relatively novel stylistic choice, although it might have been nice to see turn of the century Kansas straightforward 2D, making the transition to 3D all the more poignant.

There are two main issues with the film. First, every character, aside from Glinda the good witch, has been miscast. Franco’s creased gurn doesn’t translate into real charm and he never sells the part, Mila Kunis is allowed to screech far too much as Theodora and Rachel Weisz does her best with the paper thin character of Evanora, which was created specifically for this film. Finally there’s Zach Braff as a forgettable CGI monkey. It’s an unconvincing mix, acted without the theatrical underpinnings that the film deserves.

Michelle Williams is at least a glowing bastion of bland goodness, but here we encounter the second issue. The film suffers from trying to crowbar in too many characters and ideas, to the point that you can tell there is a lot of material that’s been left on the cutting room floor. Raimi admitted at a press conference that he had to remove much of the back story for Evanora and Glinda to get the movie down to its already bulging 130 minute runtime.

What Raimi and Co. actually get right are the more upsetting aspects of Oz. This is, after all, a man who cut his teeth with no-budget horror flicks. For example, Evanora’s army of winged baboons is gradually introduced as this awful, inescapable threat, making their howling first full appearance all the more blood-curdling. There are even some Evil Dead-style makeup effects for when the witches turn truly nasty. And the obligatory cameo from Bruce Campbell.

Kids will be amused and terrified by Oz the Great and Powerful, although expect some fidgeting as the film ploughs on. Adults, on the other hand, will detect the compromises that have been made to get it out on time and on budget. It might almost have been better split across two releases rather than one, and it’s not as if Disney doesn’t know a thing or two about milking a franchise. Executives can comfort themselves with the thought that it’s probably going to make a shitload of money. Good for them!