No film has ever been completely successful, financially or critically, in revisiting the Land of Oz--with that grand shadow of the 1939 classic still strong in our hearts. The fact that Oz The Great and Powerful has done so and become an international hit, is no small accomplishment.
Garland's Oz is indelibly inscribed in the popular culture, one of the greatest of all films. Rather than foolishly try to replace it in our minds, or reinvent it, Oz the Great and Powerful builds on that fondness, expands the story in a remarkably skillful way. You can literally watch this film and the other in succession and it won’t seem like a break in continuity, visually or otherwise.
There is no feeling that anyone behind the scenes of this new film had the misguided notion to make you forget what came before. You can love this movie and also still hold the MGM one in the highest regard. This is a prequel, so you can watch the ‘39 film after it and they’ll both fit together nicely.
On Blu-ray, Oz the Great and Powerful glows like the Emerald City. And though it might have seemed overlong to some in theaters, it does not seem that way in the home environment. Like MGM’s Oz, I think this film will become a home re-watching favorite.
Since Oz the Great and Powerful seems to have been a big international success, the best thing is that sequels might give us more glimpses into an Oz that has usually been only in Baum’s 14 books. More, more, more!
I would love to have heard an audio commentary by director Sam Raimi among the bonus features, but features are still in abundance, especially on the Blu-ray.
These bonus features are on the DVD and the Blu-ray:
• Walt Disney and the Road to Oz
Original Mouseketeers Doreen Tracey and Bobby Burgess, along with historians Les Perkins, Howard Green and myself trace the story of the Disney connections with Oz from the ‘30s to today, particularly focusing on the film spectacular that Walt never completed: The Rainbow Road to Oz, using rare artifacts seen publicly for the first time here.
A good feature for parents of small children who might be frightened at the Wicked Witch, since this shows how they are all actors pretending and can act silly in costume.
Blu-ray Exclusive Features
• Mr. Elfman’s Music Concoctions
Danny Elfman takes you through the process of scoring Oz the Great and Powerful, which he calls one of the best experiences of his career.
• Mila’s Metamorphosis
Another way to show children that the Witch is make believe and the lady playing her is really still a nice person.
• China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief
I loved the China Girl! She had a nice Rankin/Bass and Bil Baird look, and an attitude much like our little five year old cousin Lydia. Also, the China City is one of several sections in Baum’s book that never made it to the big screen.
• Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas to Oz
Production Designer Robert Stromberg shows how the film is done in classic Hollywood style with real sets and effects in addition to green screen, and most importantly, how his enthusiasm for such Disney classics as Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio and Bambi infused the look of Oz the Great and Powerful.
Other features, depending on which package you choose:
• Second Screen
Follow Finley and the magic tricks through the entire movie with select iPads.
• Digital Copy
Using the enclosed code, you can add points to your Disney Movie Rewards and download a complimentary copy of the movie to your computer or smart phone.