Oz: The Great and Powerful

March 21, 2013 | 2:14 p.m.

‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ and the art of the opening title sequence

A still from the opening title sequence of "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney)
Disney has released the opening title sequence for Sam Raimi’s $200-million fantasy “Oz the Great and Powerful” online, and before you start mumbling, “Who the heck cares?” keep in mind that this is not just your run-of-the-mill title sequence. This is a work of art. Yu + Co, a design firm based in Hollywood that also created opening titles for “The Life of Pi” and “The Walking Dead,” was tasked with crafting the title sequence for “Oz the Great and Powerful,” drawing inspiration from the Theater of Perspective, a pre-cinematic form of 3-D entertainment, according to a post on its website. The credits are especially dazzling when seen in 3-D, but even without the additional perspective, they still capture the early 20th century sideshow magic that permeates the film. The most memorable credit sequences always do reflect the spirit of […]
March 12, 2013 | 10:50 a.m.

‘Oz the Great and Powerful': Scott Stokdyk on visual splendor, monkeys

Sam Raimi’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” might have earned some mixed reviews from critics, but there’s no question that there’s magnificent spectacle on display in the $200-million movie. Scott Stokdyk served as the film’s visual effects supervisor — he worked with Raimi on the director’s three “Spider-Man” films — and played a key role in conjuring the otherworldly imagery that fascinated moviegoers. Hero Complex caught up with him briefly to talk about the project’s Technicolor aesthetic and the design of Finley, the sweetly comic flying monkey voiced by Zach Braff. HC: Often production designers will talk about how they approach creating a film’s design, but I’m guessing very similar conversations must take place about a movie’s visual effects — determining what role they will play in helping to craft the overall look? SS: I worked on the project for […]
March 12, 2013 | 6:00 a.m.

‘Oz the Great and Powerful': Zach Braff on his ‘wacky’ friend Franco

One of the most memorable aspects of Sam Raimi’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” is the unlikely kinship that arises between James Franco’s cad con man turned hero Oscar Diggs and Finley, the tiny talking monkey given voice by actor Zach Braff. At an early Hero Complex screening of “Oz the Great and Powerful” at the AMC Century City 15 & Imax last week, Braff, famous for his work on television’s long-running sitcom “Scrubs” and his lauded turn behind the camera as director of the memorable indie “Garden State,” among other projects, described his on-set chemistry with Franco, whom he now considers a close friend. “James is a wacky guy, and I love wacky people,” Braff said during a Q&A that took place following the film. “There’s times I’ve done movies where you really can’t get along with the person […]
March 11, 2013 | 2:17 p.m.

‘Oz the Great and Powerful': Zach Braff recalls on-set experience

Zach Braff (featured image)
“Oz the Great and Powerful” handily won the weekend box office with an impressive $80.3 million take in the U.S. and Canada, making it the biggest hit of the year so far. The film, Sam Raimi’s quasi-prequel to the 1939 Oscar-winning musical “The Wizard of Oz,” benefited from its broad appeal (not to mention higher 3-D ticket prices). For the actors starring in the lavish fantasy inspired by the books of L. Frank Baum, though, the emphasis was on performance, not eventual box-office returns. Attempting to find the right approach to Finley, the sweet-natured talking monkey who becomes a boon companion to James Franco’s magician con man in the magical realm, proved an interesting assignment for Zach Braff, the actor explained last week at an early Hero Complex screening of “Oz the Great and Powerful” at the AMC Century City […]
March 11, 2013 | 10:10 a.m.

‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ and ‘Walking Dead’? Nicotero is connection

Greg Nicotero, co–executive producer, director, special effects and makeup supervisor/designer on the set of the AMC zombie series "The Walking Dead." (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)
At first glance, “Oz the Great and Powerful” might not seem to have a lot in common with AMC’s hit zombie series “The Walking Dead,” but they share one key element: Greg Nicotero. The veteran makeup artist now spends much of his time on the Georgia set of the popular show, serving as co-executive producer and directing episodes as well, but he also worked with Howard Berger and the artisans at their shop, KNB EFX Group, to create the fantastic looks for director Sam Raimi’s voyage to the world of Oz created by L. Frank Baum. In Raimi’s vision, that land is populated by creations such as the China Girl (Joey King) and Finley (Zach Braff), the talking monkey that becomes a key companion for James Franco as his magician con man travels through the fantastic landscape and quickly becomes involved in a war […]
March 10, 2013 | 11:40 a.m.

‘Oz’ makeup: Howard Berger on witches, Winkies and Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney)
Howard Berger is the Oscar-winning makeup artist who took home his golden statuette for “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (a prize he shared with longtime collaborator Tami Lane, who went on to oversee the makeup for Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”). His latest professional challenge again transported him to another fanciful land — for Sam Raimi’s lavish fantasy “Oz the Great and Powerful,” he designed makeups for Munchkins, Wicked Witches and one strangely familiar Winkie. Berger spoke to Hero Complex prior to the film’s release about the intricacies of redesigning one of cinema’s most iconic villains — though with spoilers in mind, he declined to name the actress who ultimately becomes the movie’s Wicked Witch — and what it was like to re-team with his old friend Raimi. (The pair first worked […]
March 10, 2013 | 8:00 a.m.

‘Oz the Great and Powerful': Zach Braff on talking monkeys, bodysuits

Actor Zach Braff brought Finley to life in "Oz the Great and Powerful." (Disney)
In “Oz the Great and Powerful,” James Franco might play the magician conman who’s called upon to bring peace to a faraway fantasy land, but it’s Zach Braff’s dutiful Finley who really has to do the heavy lifting — why else would a winged primate dress as a bellhop unless it was to carry a wizard’s bags? Finley is just one of the fantastic creations that populates “Oz the Great and Powerful,” the weekend’s hit spectacle event movie that stands as a quasi-prequel to the Oscar-winning 1939 musical, “The Wizard of Oz.” Bringing the character to life required Braff — the actor famous for his turn on television’s long-running sitcom “Scrubs” and his lauded turn behind the camera as director of the memorable indie “Garden State,” among other projects — to supply plenty of comedy. But the role also required […]
March 08, 2013 | 9:54 a.m.

Great and powerful? Recalling the original ‘Wizard of Oz’ [Photos]

The one and only Dorothy, as played by Judy Garland.
“The Wizard of Oz” is one of the most beloved movies of all time, so it’s a bold move to try to step inside those ruby-red slippers. Disney has done just that with its new film “Oz the Great and Powerful,” a prequel of sorts to the 1939 classic. Although reviews have been mixed, many agree that the Sam Raimi-directed film starring Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis, and James Franco as a con-man magician swept away to Oz, is visually stunning. But no one would dare to say that “Oz the Great and Powerful” surpasses the original, even if they believed it, right? (That would be sacrilegious!) We dug into the Los Angeles Times archives to bring you — above –some images tied to “The Wizard of Oz.” Starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, the film is the most watched movie […]
March 08, 2013 | 8:16 a.m.

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

“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 […]
March 07, 2013 | 2:44 p.m.

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

Mila Kunis, 'Oz the Great and Powerful' (featured image)
Sam Raimi’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” gives each of the Ozian ladies her turn in the spotlight. Benevolent witch Glinda (Michelle Williams) floats in her bubble and rules over the Munchkins, Quadlings and Tinkers. Silver-tongued Evanora (Rachel Weisz) orchestrates the running of the Emerald City. And Theodora, portrayed by Mila Kunis, is a naive young woman who finds herself lovestruck by mysterious stranger Oscar “Oz” Diggs (James Franco). For Kunis, the role represented a chance to once again act with Franco, one of her “dearest, closest friends,” she said, and to work with Raimi — a director she has long admired. “Sam is the most collaborative director I’ve ever worked with,” she said. “He wears a suit every day to work out of respect to the crew …. He is willing to hear other people’s opinions, and he doesn’t […]
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