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March 08, 2013

‘Oz’ faces tornado of criticism as it drops into theaters

Posted in: Books,Fans,Movies

A scene from "Oz the Great and Powerful." The film follows a magician who accidentally lands in Oz and encounters all manner of creatures. (Disney Enterprises)

China Girl, voiced by Joey King, and James Franco in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney Enterprises)

Mila Kunis, left, and James Franco in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney Enterprises)

Michelle Williams, center, in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney Enterprises)

Finley, voiced by Zach Braff, in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney Enterprises)

Michelle Williams plays Glinda in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney Enterprises)

Mila Kunis, left, and James Franco in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Merie Weismiller Wallace / Disney Enterprises)

Finley, voiced by Zach Braff, and James Franco in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney Enterprises)

Finley (voiced by Zach Braff), left, China Girl (voiced by Joey King) and James Franco in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney Enterprises)

Rachel Weisz, left, and Mila Kunis in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney Enterprises)

Rachel Weisz and James Franco in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney Enterprises)

Michelle Williams in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Merie Weismiller Wallace / Disney Enterprises)

James Franco and Rachel Weisz in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney Enterprises)

Finley, voiced by Zach Braff, and James Franco in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney Enterprises)

China Girl (voiced by Joey King), left, and Finley (voiced by Zach Braff) in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney Enterprises)

Quadlings and Munchkins in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney Enterprises)

James Franco, left, and Mila Kunis in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Merie Weismiller Wallace / Disney Enterprises)

James Franco, left, and Mila Kunis on the set of "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Merie Weismiller Wallace / Disney Enterprises)

James Franco, left, and director Sam Raimi on the set of "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Merie Weismiller Wallace / Disney Enterprises)

Composer Danny Elfman says the score for "Oz" came upon him "lightning fast." (Patrick Wymore / Disney Enterprises)

“Oz the Great and Powerful” is neither great nor powerful, if you believe the criticism being heaped upon it in the mainstream media.

Nearly all of the critics agree that the film is visually stunning. But several of the nation’s top critics described “Oz the Great and Powerful” as a runaway train, with so much money poured into the special effects and pageantry of it all that the production had nothing left to spend on a compelling story.

“An oppressive, bloated bore, the latest argument that CGI kills the imaginations of talented filmmakers,” said the Miami Herald.

“If it only had a brain. Or a heart. Or nerve,” the New York Daily News said of “Oz the Great and Powerful.” The New York Times described the film as “a dispiriting, infuriating jumble of big money, small ideas and ugly visuals.”

There was also plenty of criticism aimed at star James Franco, with many critics saying he’s just flat out unlikable as a magician and womanizer who gets swept away to Oz in a hot-air balloon. “The actor is frankly too adept at being irritating, so much so that his presence makes it harder to enjoy the rest of the movie,” said the Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan.

“Despite the considerable amount of time, effort and cash invested in it, this film remains an unfocused fairy tale with the nasty bits left in, which is not always a good idea,” Turan added of the film, a prequel to the beloved 1939 classic.

Such reviews aside, it looks as if the yellow brick road could lead Walt Disney Studios to box office gold, said our sister blog Company Town. The $200-million-plus production is headed toward the biggest box office opening of the year, expected to take in as much as $90 million.

Of course, not every major review was so dour:

– “There’s enough magic to make it enjoyable for what it is,” said NBC News.

– The USA Today headline proclaimed the film “good, escapist fun” and called it “powerfully entertaining.”

–”Relax, my pretties. ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ is a lollapalooza of funhouse thrills and visually sumptuous filmmaking,” said the Star Tribune.

A quick scan of Twitter showed that many fans were counting down the hours until they were free of work or school obligations to hit theaters and see “Oz” for themselves. And some who defied sleep to get in an early showing seemed pleased with the results:

Are you planning to see “Oz” this weekend?

ALSO:

113 years in the land of Oz

‘Oz’ actress Mila Kunis on Raimi, CGI and the ‘timeless’ original

‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’: Robert Stromberg on Raimi, Burton, Baum 


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