Oz the Great and Powerful: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy (a J!-ENT Blu-ray disc Review)
June 4, 2013 by Dennis Amith
“Oz the Great and Powerful” is a gorgeous, thrilling and captivating film that has potential for even more sequels within the world of Oz. I’m confident to say that “Oz the Great and Powerful” is one of the most beautiful films I have seen on Blu-ray for 2013 and also to have a complimenting lossless soundtrack that is immersive. “Oz the Great and Powerful: Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy” is highly recommended!
TITLE: Oz the Great and Powerful: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy
FILM RELEASE: 2013
DURATION: 130 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 (beginning of feature film plays in 1:33:1), English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digita, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
RATED: PG (For Sequences of Action and Scary Images and Brief Mild Language)
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Directed by Sam Raimi
Screenplay by Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire, Mitchelle Kapner
Based on the works of “Oz” by L. Frank Baum
Produced by Joe Roth
Co-Producer: K.C. Hodenfield, W. Mark McNair, Tamara Watts Kent
Executive Producer: Grant Curtis, Joshua Donen, Palak Patel, Philip Steur
Associate Producer: Debbi Bossi
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Peter Deming
Edited by Bob Murawski
Casting by John Papsidera
Production Design by Robert Stromberg
Art Direction by John Lord booth II, Todd Cherniawsky, Stefan Dechant, Andrew L. Jones, Iain McFayden, Meghan C. Rogers, Domenic Silvestri
Set Decoration by Nancy Haigh
Costume Design by Gary Jones
James Franco as Oz
Mila Kunis as Theodora
Rachel Weisz as Evanora
Michelle Williams as Annie/Glinda
Zach Braff as Frank/Finley
Bill Cobbs as Master Tinker
Joey King as Girl in Wheelchair/China Girl
Tony Cox as Knuck
Disney’s fantastical adventure Oz The Great And Powerful, from the director of the Spider-Man trilogy,follows Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics. When Diggs is hurled away to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot — until he meets three witches (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams), who aren’t convinced he’s the great wizard everyone’s expecting. Reluctantly drawn into epic problems facing Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it’s too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity — and even some wizardry — Oscar transforms himself into the great wizard and a better man as well.
Since the 1930’s, Walt Disney had wanted to make a film inspired by the 1900 American novel “The Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum.
Unfortunately for Disney, with the success of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”, it gave Samuel Goldwyn the idea that films about fantasy would do well in the U.S. and thus he acquired the rights and re-sold it to Louis B. Mayer in 1938. And this would result in MGM developing the musical adaptation “Wizard of Oz” in 1939.
Walt Disney would later revisit Oz with an idea to create a musical during the 1950’s with the Mickey Mouse Club titled “The Road to Oz” but the plan was dropped. Another Disney opportunity to revisit Oz as a live-action film did happen in 1985 titled “Rainbow Road to Oz”, but at that time, Disney films were not doing that well in the box office. Disney would lose the film rights to the OZ books and the books were reverted to public domain.
But for screenwriter Mitchel Kapner, having read the sixth novel in the series “The Emerald City of Oz”, Kapner wanted to explore the origins of the Wizard of Oz and so, Kapner tried to present it to other studios but to no avail. But Walt Disney Pictures decided to give a film adaptation a chance and Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man” films, “Darkman”, “Army of Darkness”) was hired to direct “Oz the Great and Powerful”.
The film would star James Franco (“127 Hours”, “Spider-Man” films), Mila Kunis (“Black Swan”, “That 70’s Show”, “Family Guy”), Rachel Weisz (“The Mummy” films, “The Fountain”, “Constantine”), Michelle Williams (“Shutter Island”, “My Week with Marilyn”, “Dawson’s Creek”) and Zach Braff (“Scrubs”, “Garden State”, “Chicken Little”).
The film would become a box office success, earning over $490 million. And now “Oz the Great and Powerful” will be released on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray + DVD+Digital Copy, Blu-ray + Digital Copy and DVD + Digital Copy courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment in June 2013.
The film is set in 1905, where we are introduced to Oscar “Oz” Diggs (portrayed by James Franco), a conman and womanizer operating as a small-time magician, wanting to one-day make the big time. Along with his assistant Frank (portrayed by Zach Braff), when the people request for Oz to use his magic to heal a crippled girl’s legs, he know he is unable to and he is booed by the crowd.
Meanwhile, his former girlfriend Annie (portrayed by Michelle Williams) has been asked by another man to marry him and she is hoping that Oz would stop her from getting married and want her to be with him instead. But because he doesn’t have much of a career, nor the means to take care of her, he gives his blessings to Annie. But meanwhile, because of his womanizing ways, he is chased down by two of the people from the circus who want to hurt him.
Knowing that he did something wrong, he escapes his pursuers and jumps inside a hot air balloon and leaves. But he is unaware that a tornado is coming and his balloon gets caught up in a balloon. Screaming that he will be a better person if he is allowed to live, he ends up in a new land known as Oz.
The first person he meets is a young witch named Theodora (portrayed by Mila Kunis) and learns that the kingdom has been waiting for the Wizard known as Oz. The wizard who would bring peace to the land by defeating the evil wicked witch. And his magician skills are enough to make Theodora think he is the Wizard they are waiting for.
As they prepare to go to Emerald City, Oz manages to save and befriend a flying monkey named Finley (voiced by Zach Braff) and as the three head to Emerald City, he tells Finley the truth that he is not a wizard.
Once the three arrive to the castle, he meets Theodora’s sister Evanora (portrayed by Rachel Weisz) and immediately we see Theodora’s anger when she starts to flirt with the wizard. But for Evanora, she is not convinced that Oz is a real wizard and when she meets with him later that night, she shows him the treasure of the city and tells him, it will be his, only if he manages to kill the wicked witch.
Wanting the treasure badly, Oz accepts the job. So, along the way, he and Finley head to find the witch but they end up in a village that was destroyed. They hear a crying survivor, a porcelain doll named China Girl (voiced by Joey King), who explained that her village was celebrating after word that the wizard has arrived. But the wicked witch sent her army of evil flying monkeys to attack and destroy the villagers and now, there are no survivors except her.
Seeing her legs destroyed, Oz manages to put her back together with glue and she becomes the next member of his team, who must find a way to slay the wicked witch.
But what will happen when they confront her?
“Oz the Great and Powerful” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio, 1:33:1 at the beginning of the film). I can honestly say that “Oz the Great and Powerful” is one of the best looking Blu-rays I have seen in 2013. Colors are vibrant, skin tones are natural, CG elements manages to look convincingly real and world of Oz with its lush green mountains, colorful flowers, clouds, high above Oz and seeing the environments during the day and even the look of the city during night with fireworks, flames, etc. This film looks amazing!
There is so much to be impressed about with this film. Close-ups of the characters show great clarity and detail, CG clouds to characters like Finley and even China Girl look fantastic close up! Even the make up design on Mila Kunis as the wicked witch is impressive! The mouth movements are perfectly aligned with what the character is saying and the film including production and costume design (as well as makeup design) are wonderful highlights to this film.
During my viewing, I saw no artifacts or banding, no crush and nothing negative when it comes to picture quality. If anything, “Oz the Great and Powerful” looks absolutely magnificent on Blu-ray!
“Oz the Great and Powerful” won me over with picture quality but how is the lossless soundtrack? Presented in English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, English .1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, this film is immersive. The soundtrack for its many action sequences along with Danny Elfman’s music makes the soundscape so immersive with audio well utilized, LFE happening during the action sequences and I was impressed! From the scene where Oz arrives in Oz during the beginning of the film sounds amazing but once you get to the chase scene, soldier marching or even the plan enacted by Oz, audiophiles should be pleased by this active, immersive lossless soundtrack!
Subtitles are presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Oz the Great and Powerful” comes with the following special features:
- Disney Second Screen – Explore the film on your iPad and make magic with Finley and Oz’s Bag of Tricks. Plus: Journey into the Fantastic Land!
- Walt Disney and the Road to Oz – (10:13) A featurette about how Walt Disney had wanted to do an Oz film since making his first animated film. Despite trying to attain the rights to make a film, he tried to make a make an Oz musical in the ’50s titled “Rainbow Road to Oz” featuring the Mickey Mouse gang.
- My Journey in Oz by James Franco – (21:43) James Franco documents a typical day on the set of “Oz the Great and Powerful” featuring interviews with Director Sam Raimi and the cast.
- China Girl and the Suspension of Belief – (5:26) The making of the china Girl, how they made China Girl using a marionette and the voice behind the character.
- Before Your Very Eyes form Kansas to Oz – (11:02) The art of oz and how award winning production designer Robert Stromberg added his own unique touch to “Oz the Great and Powerful”.
- Mila’s Metamorphosis – (7:43) Mila Kunis and makeup designers transforming the actress to the wicked witch.
- Mr. Elfman’s Musical Concoctions – (7:13) Danny Elfman talks about his working relationship with Sam Raimi and creating the music for the film.
- Bloopers – (5:06) Bloopers from “Oz the Great and Powerful”.
“Oz the Great and Powerful” comes with a slipcover and this version comes with a Blu-ray, DVD (widescreen 2:40:1 (beginning of feature film is 1:33:1), English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish) and Digital Copy of the film.
Like many people who have watched the classic “Wizard of Oz”, anything made after this film based on “Oz”, many would like to dismiss it.
But for fans of the 1985 film “Return to Oz”, despite it not doing well in the box office, fans of the L. Frank Baum books were supportive of the Disney live-action film because it was a faithful adaptation of the novel.
Since 1985, so much has changed when it comes to technology and recreating worlds. And with the 2013 Disney film, “Oz the Great and Powerful”, it gave director Sam Raimi and writers Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire to create a film, with a skillful and talented crew to recreate the world of Oz and give us a visual feast but also a storyline that the young and old can easily be entertained. But I felt the film captured the fantasy and its efficacy lies in the fact that the world of Oz can look so gorgeous in the film, even though it may have been created via CG and the talent were acting around a blue screen.
From the visual appearance of Finley, the flying monkey or China Doll, just the smallest details when it came to textures and detail, I was in awe by what was created. Production design, costumes were magnificent and sure, the talents were superimposed on CG backdrops but it was well-done. It was convincing and it looks so amazing on Blu-ray!
James Franco managed to play Oz…the magician, conman and womanizer with brashness, humor but also bringing dignity to the character. Mila Kunis did a wonderful job of portraying the wicked witch Theodora, but I would have loved to see the character of Theodora in much more pain before her transformation into the vile, green witch…which would be known as the Wicked Witch of the West.
As for Evanora, Rachel Weisz has done a wonderful job of playing an antagonist with amoral affection to her sisters but I was waiting to see if the film would make a correlation to the magic shoes which would become part of the Wizard of Oz.
And Michelle Williams as Glinda, also known as the Good Witch of the South in the novel. The moralistic and caring character played with gentleness similar to her glistening and radiant version portrayed in the Wizard of Oz. Primary difference is that Glinda was accused of crimes she did not commit and is a bit unsure of herself, while the later version of herself is calm and self-assured.
This leads me to wonder if Disney plans on making a trilogy or more films based on L. Frank Baum’s novels especially with “The Marvelous Land of Oz”, the second book. One that introduces the scarecrow and tin man but features a new protagonist named Tip and the witch of the North, Mombi. It would be a great tie-in to the films of showing how the scarecrow and tin man came to be and possibly introducing the character known as Ozma.
With the box office success of “Oz the Great and Powerful”, I would only hope that Disney does continue the story of Oz, as it would provide a very good connection to “The Wizard of Oz”.
As for “Oz the Great and Powerful”, I was hooked by the film’s visuals but the storyline was fascinating and I was entertained but also wanted to see the origin of the witches and Glinda the Good and of course, Oz.
For parents, personally I think the original “Wizard of Oz” had more frightening elements than “Oz the Great and Powerful” but I can see some younger children being spooked by seeing how the Wicked Witch came to be or perhaps the scary look of the evil flying monkeys. But “Oz the Great and Powerful” is a wonderful family film that both young and old can equally be entertained.
The Blu-ray release was magnificent as colors were vibrant, detailed and I saw no hint of any artifacts or banding, the picture quality was perfect. The lossless audio was immersive and will no doubt make audiophiles happy. And as for special features, you do get a good number of them included on this Blu-ray release. I have been spoiled by magnificent Disney releases on Blu-ray that I was hoping to see more when it comes to special features. Especially with audio commentary tracks or just lengthier featurettes, so I felt the Blu-ray release could have had more special features included.
I know there are people who have issues with the Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy being released separately. While some companies choose to include their Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray 2D films together, Disney chooses to keep them separate but that’s their decision and perhaps for future releases, they may consider people’s pleas of releasing one release versus two separate releases.
Overall, “Oz the Great and Powerful” is a gorgeous, thrilling and captivating film that has potential for even more sequels within the world of Oz. I’m confident to say that “Oz the Great and Powerful” is one of the most beautiful films I have seen on Blu-ray for 2013 and also to have a complimenting lossless soundtrack that is immersive.
“Oz the Great and Powerful: Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy” is highly recommended!
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