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Oz, the Great and Powerful (***)
directed by Sam Raimi
written by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire, based on characters created by L. Frank Baum
Principal Cast
James Franco -- Oz
Mila Kunis -- Theodora
Rachel Weisz -- Evanora
Michelle Williams -- Annie / Glinda
Zach Braff -- Frank / Finley
Bill Cobbs -- Master Tinker
Joey King -- Girl in Wheelchair / China Girl
Tony Cox -- Knuck
Stephen R. Hart -- Winkie General
Abigail Spencer -- May
Bruce Campbell -- Winkie Gate Keeper
Ted Raimi -- Skeptic in Audience
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Oz, the Great and Powerful Not as deeply satisfying as the original 1939 film, the new Oz movie is beautiful and clever and is easily the second best Oz film of all time. There are some slow moments early on, but the characters are delightful and it all comes together in the end. The writers are true to all things Oz, mostly. The introduction of sex into Oz seems out of place. I'm not certain, but I seem to remember that in Oz children are found under cabbage leaves.

Until I was actually watching the film, I had not stopped to think about the difficulty of writing a screenplay which has to end with the characters essentially where Dorothy Gale finds them in The Wizard of Oz. Oz himself must remain a humbug. The two Wicked Witches must not only survive, but retain their freedom. To make a satisfying ending from such requirements is not an easy trick, but the two writers of this film pull it off.

David Lindsay-Abaire won a Pulitzer Prize for his Broadway play Rabbit Hole, and has written other plays and screenplays, including the recent Rise of the Guardians.

The first Oz book, The Wizard of Oz, is still fun to read. The others, by L. Frank Baum and his many successors, are of mixed quality. Some are enjoyable children's fantasies. The best are those that take Oz seriously, the worst are silly, like those that have then-popular toys living in Oz.

This film is a prequel to the 1939 film, not to the books. But it very sensibly ignores the idea that Oz is nothing but Dorothy's dream.

Copyright © 2013 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon. Visit his web site at

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