Oz the Great and Powerful (♦♦♦♦)

Oscar, Oz for short, is a magician--with a traveling circus-- who in the midst of a quarrel jumps onto a hot air balloon and gets sucked into the funnel of a tornado. He lands in a place so full of color and marvel that he believes himself to be in heaven. There he meets a beautiful, naïve witch named Theodora.

Theodora introduces Oz to the prophecy of Oz, a mighty wizard who is destined to become king of Oz after defeating the wicked witch who has Oz’ inhabitants terrorized. Theodora brings Oz to Emerald City to meet her sister Evanora who is the guardian of the throne. As it turns out, Evanora is the bad witch, who gives Theodora—ailing from a broken heart—a bite of a green, magical apple. Upon biting the apple Theodora becomes the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West, who fights along Evanora and her creatures against Glinda, the Witch of the South, and the good people of Oz aided by the wizard.

Oz the Great and Powerful is a splendid family movie with plenty of lush, dazzling special effects. The makeup and the costume designs are also top notch. The beauty of the land of Oz is in stark contrast with the black and white opening scenes of the circus in Kansas. Also one can actually perceive the scenes with 3D effects such as the one with the blooming of colorful flowers and the fly of the water fairies.

It is noteworthy the attention given to the casting process since there are very good actors involved in this project. James Franco is well suited for the character of the wizard: charming but a con artist at heart; Michelle Williams plays the role of Gilda, the good Witch of the South, Mila Kunis plays the role of Theodora/Wicked Witch of the West and Rachel Weisz interprets the role of Evanora.

In my opinion the most challenging role in the movie is the one interpreted by Mila Kunis and that’s where one can really appreciate the range of her acting abilities since Theodora is sweet and naïve while the Witch of the West is well… wicked.

Oz the Great and Powerful is a Disney movie with very traditional Disney’s messages as in “you can do anything you set your mind to” and the importance of believing in oneself if one is to accomplish great things in life. The contrast between the personality traits of the witches of Oz is also very Disney-esque and they exploit it to perfection. The use of light is also a distinct Disney feature: Oz is full of color, light and good people while the dark forest is dark and sinister and hides ugly creatures.

The humor is orientated towards children and I found it rather silly, but not too silly that is mind-numbing or makes you run for the exit.

In summary, Oz the Great and Powerful is a movie with obvious Disney messages but that can be enjoyed equally by young and old, with the added plus of being the first good movie of 2013.