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Has there even been a movie trilogy that has been made over as many decades as the Oz films? First there was the 1939 musical The Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland as Dorothy that has become one of the most beloved films of all time. A live-action sequel didn't come until 46 (!) years later with 1985's Return to Oz starring a young Fairuza Balk as Dorothy. Now, another 28 years later, Sam Raimi's Oz the Great and Powerful serves as a prequel to the The Wizard of Oz and tells the story of Kansas magician Oscar Digg's (James Franco) journey to Oz.
As geeks everywhere blog and tweet themselves into a tizzy wondering if Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford will be returning to Star Wars: Episode VII, no one expects any actors from 1939's The Wizard of Oz to reprise their roles in Oz the Great and Powerful (none of the main players are still with us). Even though the three Oz movies have very different tones, there are still common characters, settings and threads between them that bind them together despite the years between them. Before you see Oz the Great and Powerful in theaters, here are some familiar things to look for in the two Oz films available for rent.
The Wizard of Oz
1. The film begins in black and white in Kansas and then becomes full color once Dorothy lands in the land of Oz. In Oz the Great and Powerful, the film starts in black and white while Oscar is in Kansas and then switches to color when a tornado whisks him away in his balloon to Oz.
2. Dorothy's house crash-lands on the Wicked Witch of the East in The Wizard of Oz and kills her, leaving the ruby slippers for Dorothy. Now you know what Evanora's (Rachel Weisz) ultimate fate is in Oz the Great and Powerful.
3. Do you remember how the yellow brick world starts in a swirl in the middle of Munchkinland? Watch for it in Raimi's new movie—it's exactly the same.
4. Munchkins sure like to sing in the original film. They actually burst out in song in Raimi's film, too, but it is not a musical and it doesn't go there for long.
5. In the 1939 film, Glinda the Good prefers to fly around in giant bubbles. She has the same mode of transport in Oz the Great and Powerful.
6. You know you were scared of the Wicked Witch of the West's flying monkeys in the original movie. In Oz the Great and Powerful, there is an adorable flying monkey named Finley who follows Oscar around, but there are also frightening flying baboons that do the bidding of Evanora.
7. That poisonous poppy field that puts Dorothy and her pals asleep returns again in the prequel and is used during a key battle sequence.
8. That long hallway in the Emerald City that leads to the "man behind the curtain" in The Wizard of Oz looks exactly the same in Oz the Great and Powerful, except this time it leads to plotting sisters Evanora and Theodora (Mila Kunis). The other sets depicted in Raimi's Oz as well as the uniforms of the Oz guards are inspired by the original film.
9. Dorothy melts the Wicked Witch of the West with a little water in The Wizard of Oz. Keep that in mind if you don't think Theodora gets her proper comeuppance in Oz the Great and Powerful.
10. The wizard uses a lot of flashy illusions like flame and smoke to make Dorothy and friends believe he has great magical powers. In Oz the Great and Powerful, you'll see the first time that Oscar snows the denizens of Oz with some inventive special effects.
Return to Oz
1. Aunt Em (Piper Laurie) doesn't exercise the best judgment in this sequel when she takes Dorothy to a loony bin because the girl is having trouble sleeping after, you know, traversing dimensions. It's called warm milk, Em.
2. In The Wizard of Oz and Oz the Great and Powerful, tornadoes whisk people away to Oz. In Return to Oz, Dorothy washes up there after being swept away in a raging river.
3. Dorothy returns to Oz six months after the events in The Wizard of Oz and sees her old house that landed on the Wicked Witch of the East.
4.Toto appears in the movie in the beginning and the end in the Kansas segments, but this time Dorothy is accompanied through Oz by a talking hen.
5. The yellow brick road needs some serious maintenance in Return to Oz—it is completely broken apart.
6. The Emerald City, too, is a crumbling wasteland with its citizens—including the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion—turned to stone by the evil Gnome King. The Scarecrow, whom Dorothy left as the king of Oz in The Wizard of Oz, is now held prisoner by the Gnome King.
7. The ruby slippers make another appearance in this film, but this time they have been stolen by that sneaky little cross-dresser the Gnome King.
8. We know that Theodora and Evanora are long dead, but there is always a witch in Oz. This time it's Mombi (Jean Marsh), and she loves switching out her head with pretty new ones.
9. In The Wizard of Oz, something as innocuous as water is deadly to the Wicked Witch of the West. In Return to Oz, it's chicken eggs that are lethal poison to gnomes.
The Wizard of Oz is available on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD; Return to Oz can be found on DVD and VOD. Oz the Great and Powerful is playing in 2D and 3D in theaters everywhere.