Oz the Great and Powerful is the latest hot Blu-ray title from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, released on June 11th, 2013.
The film is based on L. Frank Baum’s Oz novels, though it also pays homage to the 1939 MGM film The Wizard Of Oz.
The film is set 20 years before the events of the books, and focuses on Oscar Diggs, who arrives in the Land of Oz and is believed to be the great wizard who is destined to restore order in Oz.
Oz the Great and Powerful the Movie
The films opens in 1905, where Oscar Diggs works as a small-time magician in a traveling circus in Kansas.
While a storm approaches, Oscar’s magic show goes very badly and then the circus strongman learns that Oscar has flirted with his wife.
The strongman chases Oscar, forcing him to escape in a hot air balloon that is sucked into the tornado.
The tornado dumps him in the Land of Oz, where he meets the witch Theodora.
Theodora believes him to be a great wizard prophesied to overthrow the Wicked Witch who killed the king of Oz.
On the way to the Emerald City, Oscar flirts with Theodora, who innocently falls in love with him.
They also meet flying monkey named Finley, who pledges a life debt to Oscar when he saves Finley from a lion.
At the Emerald City, Oscar meets Theadora’s sister Evanora, who is skeptical of Oscar being the foretold wizard.
Evanora tells Oscar that the Wicked Witch resides in the Dark Forest and can be killed by destroying her wand, the source of her power.
On the way to the Dark Forest, Oscar and Finley come across a young, living china doll whose home and family were destroyed by the Wicked Witch.
But things are not all as they seem in Oz, and as the movie plays out, Oscar must decide if he is just a simple magician, or if he is in fact destined to be The Wizard of Oz!
Oz the Great and Powerful had an interesting goal, to be a prequel to one of the most well known films in history.
This new film certainly goes a long way to recreate the Land of Oz, and the story sets the scene pretty much perfectly for the events of the original film.
Again we start with a narrow screen monochrome sequence that opens up to widescreen and glorious ‘Technicolor’ as we explore the Land of Oz.
The film has a pretty good heart, and Oscar certainly has a big character arc, with his strong self interest fading in favour of the greater good of the people of Oz.
The spirit of the original Oz movie has been well captured.
Overall I enjoyed the film, and have new motivation to re-watch the original, which has a 3D release planned for later this year.
The cast includes James Franco in the role of Oscar, along with witches Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams, and voice actors Zach Braff and Joey King.
Oz the Great and Powerful was directed by Sam Raimi, who started out with low budget films like The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, but is probably most famous for his Spider-Man: The High-Definition Trilogy.
Reviews for the movie were predominantly positive, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 60% and an IMDb score of 6.6/10.
Oz the Great and Powerful was successful in the cinema, exceeding its budget by taking in $233.7M at the US box office.
Oz the Great and Powerful on Blu-ray Disc
The video on the disc is an AVC 1080p encode at 27.5 Mbps, and is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1.
The movie looks wonderful, with deep contrast and vivid colours that mimic the Technicolor look.
The incredible set design, costumes and effects are very effectively presented in this Blu-ray release.
For full resolution PNG screen captures taken directly from the disc, check out the details page for Oz the Great and Powerful.
The main audio is lossless DTS-HD Master Audio with 7.1 channels – 24 bits resolution at 48 kHz.
The disc is a dual layer BD50, with 49.1 GB used and is coded for All Regions.
Oz the Great and Powerful on Blu-ray Disc – The Bonus Features
As you might expect with a high profile Disney title, Oz the Great and Powerful comes with a whole slew of supplemental features.
There is a Disney Second Screen iPad app for the movie called The Magic of Oz the Great and Powerful.
Unlike previous second screen apps, this one is a guided experience led by Finley the flying monkey.
There is still plenty if you don’t happen to have a second generation or newer iPad.
Walt Disney and the Road to Oz digs into the hostory of the Oz stories with Walt Disney.
Apparently Disney narrowly missed the opportunity to option the stories, which ended up in Warner’s hands.
The segment talks about a number of projects that were considered, some of which were never completed.
Obviously this path eventually led to the development and release of Oz the Great and Powerful.
My Journey in Oz by James Franco is a 20 minute mini-doc that Franco directed.
Throughout Franco talks with the cast and crew on the set of the film.
It is interesting to see the characters talk normally while in their film costumes!
The folks involved discuss why they got into the project, as well as the development of the movie.
The methods used to add the computer generated characters are also discussed.
All in all this is a good behind the scenes featurette that is a little more stylish than most.
The computer animated character of the China Girl is the focus of China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief.
The character is a reflection of the girl who couldn’t walk in the Kansas magic show.
During production a marionette was used as a stand in and was later replaced by the computer animated version.
It is great to see this and amazing how well the marionette performs.
The face of the voice actor is also used to help animated the face of the CGI character.
The set designs for the film are covered in Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas to Oz.
This segment presents a lot of concept art for the movie, along with a lot of discussion from Academy Award winning production designer Robert Stromberg.
Stromberg had a strong Disney influence from the classic animated movies when he designed the sets for Oz the Great and Powerful.
The film had a number of sets that were practically constructed, which were merged seamlessly with the digital sets.
In any case it is no surprise that these films cost so much to make!
Mila’s Metamorphosis covers the transformation of the actress from human to wicked witch.
The two hour process is distilled down to under 8 minutes, and the inspiration behind the character design is also discussed.
The score for the film is the focus of Mr. Elfman’s Musical Concoctions.
Right from the opening titles, the music is instantly recognizable as Elfman’s work to my mind.
Danny talks about working with Sam Raimi, and the two have collaborated on a number films.
He also discusses his process for creating the score and a number of his influences.
Lastly there is a 5 minute blooper reel.
All things considered, this is a pretty extensive collection of supplements, most of which are well worth checking out.
This release also includes a DVD Copy for legacy players and a Digital Copy code that is compatible with iTunes.
There is also a coupon inside to purchase the Blu-ray 3D copy of the movie for $5.99.
Oz the Great and Powerful on Blu-ray – Final Thoughts
Oz the Great and Powerful is a fun film that has strong ties with the original story and movie.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has put together an excellent presentation of the film and a strong collection of supplements.
On the down side, this release lacks the legacy formats of regular Blu-ray and DVD, and as such no supplements are directly available.
There is a DVD included as well as a Digital Copy code that can be used to download a copy of the film that is iTunes compatible.
The retail price is $44.99, or order it right now at Amazon for $27.98, saving 38%!
- Disney Second Screen: The Magic of Oz the Great and Powerful
- My Journey in Oz by James Franco
- Mr. Elfman’s Musical Concoctions
- China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief
- Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas to Oz
- Mila’s Metamorphosis
- Walt Disney and the Road to Oz
Disney’s fantastical adventure Oz The Great And Powerful, from the director of the Spider-Man trilogy, follows Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics. When Diggs is hurled away to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot – until he meets three witches (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams), who aren’t convinced he’s the great wizard everyone’s expecting. Reluctantly drawn into epic problems facing Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it’s too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity – and even some wizardry – Oscar transforms himself into the great Wizard and a better man as well.