Review: ‘Oz’ prequel visually dynamic, but loses heart
Disney has made major waves in the last few years buying up family friendly media properties, such as the Muppets, Marvel Comics and “Star Wars.” But the practice is not new.
Walt Disney himself procured an especially rich property in the 1950s when he scooped up the film rights to most of L. Frank Baum’s Oz novels. So it is something of a surprise that “Oz the Great and Powerful,” directed by Sam Raimi and starring James Franco in the title role, is only the studio’s second attempt in 60 years to capitalize on those rights (third if you count the made-for-TV “The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz”).
Any attempt to make an Oz movie automatically falls into the shadow of “The Wizard of Oz,” the 1939 musical starring Judy Garland that is one of the few movies nearly everyone has seen. Collective memories of that beloved classic obliterated Disney’s first attempt to revisit the magic land, 1985’s “Return to Oz,” released a full 30 years after Disney acquired the Oz rights. Audiences expected a merry sequel, but no one was singing about rainbows in the bleak fantasy far more faithful to Baum’s work than the MGM film.
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