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Review: “Oz the Great and Powerful” demands Blu-ray 3D viewing with stellar visual and surround effects

in Disney, Merchandise, Movies, Reviews

New to Blu-ray today is Oz the Great and Powerful, a film that falls short of an instant classic but is most enjoyable when viewed in 3D. It’s no “The Wizard of Oz,” but this tale of how the wizard landed in his namesake fairytale location does offer some glimpses of greatness, particularly on the new home release.

While James Franco’s performance is far from fetching as the title character, often over or under acting and rarely on point, the film’s visual style is intriguing and when presented on Blu-ray 3D, draws the viewer in like few home 3D presentations I’ve seen. “Oz the Great and Powerful” starts strong, with a captivating black-and-white opening sequence that’s a perfectly blended combination of old school puppetry and today’s cinematic special effects.

“Oz the Great and Powerful” has strangely been released in two entirely separate packages for Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D. You can’t buy both together in a combo pack, though you can add on the missing disc later for an extra fee online. But anyone with a 3D capable display needn’t bother with the 2D version of the film as it pales in comparison. Shots that appear ordinary and full of blue screened compositing and CG graphics in the 2D version come to life with extraordinary depth and realism in 3D. The tornado sequence that brings the wizard to Oz is worth the price of the 3D version alone as a perfect demonstration of a 3D home theater system, with swirling 7.1 surround sound and pop-out visual effects.

But those who purchase only the Blu-ray 3D copy will be missing out on several excellent bonus features included on the standard Blu-ray release. “Walt Disney And The Road To Oz” is a little self-gratifying but mostly an interesting look at Walt’s own connections to the world of Oz, recounting his desires and actions to make an Oz-based movie that never happened. “China Girl And The Suspension Of Disbelief” offers a fascinating look at the on-set marionette created for the film, ultimately painted out with CG, but incredibly lifelike for the actors to perform with. Likewise “Mr. Elfman’s Musical Concoctions” dives deep into the creative mind of Danny Elfman as he created the film’s score with surprising ease. “Mila’s Metamorphosis” will intrigue anyone interested in the field of film makeup and prosthetics, summarizing her 2-hour behind-the-scenes transformation into (spoiler alert!) the Wicked Witch of the West. “Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas To Oz” shows off the impressively large real sets built for the film and “My Journey In Oz By James Franco” offers some amusing backstage moments with filmmakers and actors when not shooting.

Also new with “Oz the Great and Powerful” (either version) is Disney Digital Copy Plus, allowing those who purchase a copy of the film to enter a code online to download a digital copy via their choice of iTunes, Amazon, or Vudu. No digital copy discs will be included anymore, with this three-service option a much more convenient solution.

Though “Oz the Great and Powerful” isn’t nearly the movie many hoped it would be, floundering around in the middle amidst lackluster performances, its presentation is flawless on Blu-ray and particularly on Blu-ray 3D and entertaining bonus features make both versions worth owning.

“Oz the Great and Powerful” Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, and DVD are available now from Amazon and all major retailers.

11 Comments

  1. Mitchell

    Really stupid how they split it into two releases. Terrible cover art too.

  2. Barney

    Ricky!! Did you know that the Wizard Of Oz is coming back to IMAX 3D!

    1. Ricky Brigante

      I hadn’t heard that. I wonder how well it’ll convert…

  3. Marc Morini

    I have to say the acting in this movie was anything but wonderful. Even if you don’t compare it to the 1939 film it still manages to fail to inspire or amaze. The China Doll and the monkey have some good moments but the human cast really was lack luster.

  4. Jeff Curtis

    Ricky – Do you know if the Digital Copy included with the Blu-Ray is HD or SD?

    1. Ricky Brigante

      The digital copy is available in 1080p HD but you have to download it. There’s no disc included. I downloaded mine from iTunes.

  5. Gary

    The price at Best Buy for this bare bones 3D version was $32.99. The regular Blu Ray combo included bonus extras, a free admission code for Lone Ranger and there was a $7.00 off coupon available. As much as I wanted the 3D version it just wasn’t worth it.I’ll watch it in simulated 3D which while not as good is passable. If this is Disney’s plan for all of their 3D releases in the future then they will be losing a loyal buyer. I’ll buy all my Disney movies off the secondhand markets such as Ebay or other used outlets. Because 3D didnt take off the way they expected they feel buyers will accept anything they offer at any price and in my case that’s just not so. Very disappointing!

    1. Brian

      One of the rewards that unlocked once I put in my Disney Movie Rewards code for the Blu Ray version was to add a 3D disc for $5.99. It’s under the little prize ribbon icon on the My Points toolbar.

      I’m not sure if I want to future-proof this movie that bad, but it’s nice to know that that is an option!

  6. JetsetJoey

    As much as I anticipated this film, I will NOT buy it UNTIL a Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray becomes available. What are these marketing imbeciles thinking?

  7. JetsetJoey

    Everyone should boycott the purchase of all current versions of this film UNTIL Disney releases a Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray Combo!!!

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