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.

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