Well, I guess it was only a matter of time before my sons picked a film for family movie night that I'm not nuts about. Oz the Great and Powerful has a wonderful concept: a prequel to the original 1939 film that explains how the Wizard came to the magical land of Oz and became its ruler. Unfortunately, despite a decent start, many things went wrong in the production including mediocre acting, so-so special effects that seem to get worse as the film progresses, and a drawn out story line (this "family" film is over 2 hours long!) However, the point of my reviews are not to critique the movies per se, but to tell parents what they need to know before viewing the film with their children.
Oz the Great and Powerful starts off in 1905 Kansas where Oscar "Oz" Diggs (James Franco) is working as a magician in a traveling circus. He is a self-proclaimed con man and has no desire to live the boring life of a good man. Throughout the film, Oz is quite the Casanova, making for several romantic, albeit implicit, scenes with multiple female characters. While trying to escape an enraged jealous husband of one of his mistresses, Oz jumps into a hot air balloon and gets caught up in an approaching tornado. While on the verge of death, he pleads to God to let him live and promises to change his ways.
He lands in what he soon learns is the Land of Oz and is believed to be the wizard that was sent to fulfill a prophecy of one sent to destroy the wicked witch and become the new King of Oz. Before he knows it, he is caught up in the feud between three sisters, all witches and daughters of the late King. Fueled by revenge and greed, the sisters battle each other and have viewers, and Oz, questioning who is evil and who is good. Throughout it all, the questions linger. Can people really change? Will Oz find his heart and his goodness?
"I know I'm not the wizard that you're expecting, but I might just be the wizard that you need." ~ Oz
Oz the Great and Powerful is visually very colorful and has some enchanting special effects and cute critters, such as the river fairies. Finley, the flying monkey (Zach Braff), offers much needed comic relief. However, parents should use caution with young viewers as there are many spooky parts including the eerie Dark Forest and things that lurk within, a very scary evil witch, and flying baboons that are sure to freak out some children.
Watch Official Trailer
I had such high hopes for Oz the Great and Powerful when it was released in theaters in 2013, but it was a disappointment to me. However, I know many people that enjoyed it including my sons. This film is rated PG for sequences of action, scary images, and brief mild language.
Read more of my Family Movie Reviews.