Oz the Great and Powerful - Disney - Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff. Full cast + crew
Oz the Great and Powerful is the kind of movie that seems like it shouldn't work as well as it does. It's a prequel to a story that never needed one, for starters, and it's from the producer of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. On paper it seems like it exists just to cash in on a brand name. It's more than that, though. This is a fun riff on an old tale that looks through a familiar world with fresh eyes. It's also yet another movie that proves Sam Raimi's funky personality still exists no matter the size of the story or budget.
It does take a little while to warm to Franco's Oz, who is kind of a smug jerk, but once you do, the characters click together and it culminates in a fun, memorable finale. Plus the movie just looks exuberant, whether it's in 2D or 3D, though it's worth noting that unlike most Blu-ray 3D packages these days, this 3D set does not also come with the 2D disc. So keep that in mind before you decide which copy to grab.
Special Features: "Walt Disney and the Road to Oz" (10 minutes), a brief look back at the studio's history with the property leading up to this; "My Journey in Oz," by James Franco (22 minutes), a production diary lead by Franco as he goes through and talks to key cast and crew on set; "China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief" (five minutes), a featurette dedicated to the best special effect in the movie; "From Kansas to Oz" (11 minutes), a piece dedicated to the film's elaborate production design); "Metamoprhosis" (eight minutes), dedicated to the film's witch makeup; "Mr. Elfman's Musical Concoctions" (seven minutes), Danny Elfman talks about the film's score; bloopers (five minutes).
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters - Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal. Full cast + crew
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a movie that might just be better than you're expecting. Turning two fairy tale icons into badass killers isn't an easy task, but Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) managed to pull it off. Is it a brilliant movie? Not quite. Jeremy Renner is a bit stiff throughout, and neither character is particularly interesting, but overall this is an enjoyable genre mash-up that's far more entertaining than the Van Helsing-looking production design would have you believe.
Special Features: "Reinventing Hansel & Gretel" (16 minutes), an overview of the film from conception to execution; "The Witching Hours" (nine minutes), dedicated to how the witches were created; "Meet Edward the Troll" (five minutes), a look at the design and education of the best character in the movie.
Other Notable New Releases
Disney releases six of its more overlooked, 2D-animated movies on Blu-ray this week, two movies per set. Perhaps the best pair of films in the bunch is the Atlantis series (The Lost Empire and its straight-to-video sequel Milo's Return), which features a cool style, a great voice cast, and a story that's a bit of a thematic break from typical Disney films. The first film may not be an overlooked classic, but it does hit a tone that should appeal to slightly older kids on up through adults. Then there's the pair of Lilo & Stitch films. The first actually has more emotional complexity to it than you get in a lot of kids' movies (it deals with loss, anger and bullying). And lastly we have both films in The Emperor's New Groove line. Im not a fan of either film, all of the humor misses and the story does the bare minimum to be an updating of a classic story, but if they're you're thing, by all means jump on this set.
If you're looking for more adult fare this week, try Snitch. Dwayne Johnson stars as a pissed-off father who makes a deal to get his somewhat innocent son out of a life-changing prison sentence in exchange for putting another criminal behind bars in his place. It's fairly typical as far as thrillers go, so don't expect anything mind-blowing, but it's got some good performances and has a dead-serious approach to it all.
And speaking of dead serious, this week we've got Wrong, a movie which is, well, the exact opposite of dead serious. This is a surreal, one-of-a-kind comedy about one man's increasingly bizarre attempt to get his dog back. It's full of weird characters living in a weird world where the weirdest things are totally normal. Did we mention it was weird? Check out this clip from the Blu-ray, which features the filmmakers talking about the making of a "nonfilm."