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Oz the Great and Powerful Review

Movies.com Critics

3.5

Dave White Profile

Fairy tale film crisis averted. Read full review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0
    44

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 30

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Oz the Great and Powerful, like so many products of movie studios that have lost their way, is a Tin Man of epic proportions — bright and shiny, with no heart.

    Read Full Review

  • 40

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    A miscast James Franco and a lack of charm and humor doom Sam Raimi's prequel to the 1939 Hollywood classic. Oz the Wimpy and Weak would be more like it.

    Read Full Review

  • 58

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    The film is stuffed with three endings too many. You can't blame Raimi for wanting to give us our money's worth. But after a while, you just want him to get to the Happily Ever After already.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    It's familiar enough to be comfortable but not so familiar that it feels worn and repetitive.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Oz the Great and Powerful reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 10+

Colorful prequel is scarier, less magical than the original.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Oz the Great and Powerful is considerably darker and more intense than The Wizard of Oz. While it pays tribute to the original film, the main character this time is an adult, rather than a girl, and the themes are accordingly more mature. For much of the movie, Oz (James Franco) is a selfish, egotistical ladies' man; he flirts to get his way and ends up kissing four different characters. (He also says "damn" a couple of times.) And if the Wicked Witch's flying monkeys in the 1939 classic frightened your kids, the flying baboons in this prequel may terrify them (particularly in 3-D), as will the general cruelty of the evil characters and the plight of the orphaned China Girl. Glinda is also briefly tortured (via magical lightning), and there's an intense twister scene and several "jump" moments that are especially startling in the 3-D version. The Wicked Witch's transformation is creepy, though ultimately she doesn't look quite as scary as the original. On the bright side, the movie offers a lasting lesson about how teamwork and friendship between unlikely allies can overcome obstacles and how a person's legacy lives on in people's hearts and minds.

  • Families can talk about Oz the Great and Powerful's scary scenes. What makes it scarier than the original? Does the fact that it's a fantasy story make it any less scary? Why or why not?
  • Some critics have complained that the wizard isn't a very likeable character. Do you agree? Were you still rooting for him? Why?
  • How does Oz the Great and Powerful compare to the 1939 original (and, if you're familiar with it, the musical Wicked)? Do you think it's meant for the same age kids?
  • Do you think Hollywood should have revisited the story of Oz, even if it wasn't an actual remake?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Despite the overwhelming odds against them, Oz, his friends, and the good people of Oz band together to save the land from evil. There's a recurring emphasis on the idea that when you believe (in yourself, in others, in a dream), anything is possible, as well as the notion that people can change for the better if they're given the chance -- and others' trust. Evil characters are driven by vengeance and jealousy.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Both Glinda and Annie see vast potential in Oz, even if he's a self-described con-man magician who -- at least at first -- is quick to take advantage of others and put his own selfish interests above all else. Glinda is optimistic, self-sacrificing, and wise; China Girl and Finley are faithful companions who teach Oz the meaning of unconditional friendship. The wizard rises to the occasion to save the people of Oz, and even at the end, he offers the Wicked Witch a chance to redeem herself.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: The flying monkeys are now flying, screeching baboons with big talons, and they can be downright terrifying, especially in 3-D. Early in the film, the circus strong man chases and tries to beat up Oz; the twister scene that follows is intense (this is another instance where 3-D ups the intensity, with sharp projectiles flying toward Oz, objects hurtling through storm clouds, etc.). Glinda is tortured (via magic) and must battle her evil enemies, who look quite scary and can be frighteningly wicked. China Town and all its inhabitants are mostly destroyed, and the orphaned China Girl is left with broken legs. One main character's transformation into the Wicked Witch of the West is freaky, although she's not as ugly as the original Wicked Witch. The wizard navigates some intense river rapids upon his initial arrival in Oz, plummeting down a scary waterfall, and he's later charged by a hungry lion and attacked by fierce piranha-like plants (again, scary in 3-D). Theodora hurls fireballs when her temper flares, and angry tears leave scars on her cheeks. China Girl briefly wields a knife in one scene (played for humor); soldiers use spears. Scenes in the Dark Forest include creepy eyes and a spooky graveyard. One scene near the end briefly suggests the death of a main character.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Oz is quite the womanizer; he kisses four different women over the course of the movie, and there are a few innuendos about his various conquests. Theodora wears what looks like a corset top in one scene; earlier, she's shown wearing very tight leather pants and a jacket. The Wicked Witch is fairly busty as well. Oz's treatment of women is the cause of a lot of anger and destruction.

  • language false2

    Language: "Damn" is used a couple of times; also "shut up."

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: Although the movie itself contains no product/brand references outside of the book and classic film, Disney has merchandise partnerships with everything from makeup and apparel companies to stationery and games.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: In the Kansas section, a clown drinks from a flask during Oz's magic performance.

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