Oscar Diggs is a small-time circus magician who makes most of his money through conning unexpected victims. During one fateful afternoon, Oscar is caught in a tornado and taken away to the vibrant Land of Oz. On his arrival, Oscar is greeted as the savior of Oz, with all the fame and fortune he could ever dream of, but he soon realizes that he must actually become this great wizard if he is ever to defeat the evil witches who threaten to destroy all of Oz. Sam Raimi's Oz the Great and Powerful, the prequel to the timeless classic, attempts to imagine the origin story of the great Wizard. In a nice tribute to the original film, Raimi's Oz the Great and Powerful opens in Kansas, with a 4:3 aspect ratio and black and white photography. It's only when Oscar is transported to Oz that the film transfers to the incredibly vibrant colorful and widescreen world of Oz. Oz the Great and Powerful deserves a lot of credit for being able to effectively transport the viewer into this fantasy world. The production design and computer generated effects are really top notch and along with Raimi's unique sense of humor, the film certainly makes the viewer feel as if they are truly escaping to another world much like the main protagonist. Obviously in making a prequel to such a beloved classic one should expect harsh criticism, and while Oz is certainly not as great a story, the film does an adequate job of making the two films feel like the same world and is even successful at linking them together quite well. Oz the Great and Powerful offers a nice moralistic story with a protagonist whose transformation as a human being is they key to Oz's safety. Too my surprise James Franco really does a great job as Oscar Diggs, wonderfully walking the line between despicable and entertaining. Franco pulls off the character well, capturing the conman, hero, and conflicting feelings which exist in this character whose being depended on by so many people. Oz The Great and Powerful should certainly not be compared to The Wizard of Oz, but it does supply an entertaining addition that never disrespects the greatness and importance of the original film.
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