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3D Blu-ray Reviews

Oz the Great and Powerful 3D Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 18 Matt Hough

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Posted June 04 2013 - 04:48 PM

Oz the Great and Powerful 3D Blu-ray Review

With The Wizard of Oz (both book and film) being one of the world’s most recognizable properties, it’s not surprising that many writers have tried many ways to exploit the popular and beloved story and characters. Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (and the subsequent Broadway musical written by Winnie Holtzman who adapted the novel for her own happier purposes) offered back story on Oz’s witches before Dorothy entered their lives, and now Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful does the same thing only this time with the focus on the Wizard himself. None of these reimaginings can use outright copyrighted images and ideas from the MGM classic, but it’s amazing how beautifully the creators of these subsequent properties have managed to capture somehow the tones and textures of L. Frank Baum’s fantasy world while fashioning fresh creative dimensions around their own stories, and the 3D version of this film ranks among the greatest in its use of the medium of 3D that we’ve yet had.


Cover Art


Studio: Disney

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/MVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1, 1.33:1

Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DD, English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Rating: PG

Run Time: 2 Hr. 10 Min.

Package Includes: 3D Blu-ray, Digital Copy

keep case with slipcover

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: ABC

Release Date: 06/11/2013

MSRP: $44.99




The Production Rating: 3.5/5

It’s Kansas in 1905 and Oscar Diggs nicknamed “Oz” (James Franco) works as a carnival magician but is somewhat resentful that he isn’t enjoying greater professional success. As a serial womanizer, he’s got his hooks into every attractive face at the third rate carnival, but when the circus strongman (Tim Holmes) comes after him for being involved with his wife, Oz hops in his hot air balloon to make a quick getaway. All of this happens just as a cyclone comes spinning into the area, and Oz is quickly swept up into it, whirled around, and deposited into a strange, wondrous land which just so happens is also named Oz. He meets attractive young witch Theodora (Mila Kunis) who falls for the same snake oil he feeds all of his Kansas cuties, but because she firmly believes he is indeed the wizard who had been foretold to land there, she imagines marrying Oz and ruling the land with him. Theodora’s jealous sister, the evil Evanora (Rachel Weisz), sees through the imposter and sends him into the dark forest to retrieve the magic wand of the witch who resides there effectively killing her, but when he meets Glinda (Michelle Williams), her beauty and innocence win him over as he realizes that the other witches are the evil ones who have their own plans for taking over Oz and ruling it harshly.

Taking their cue from the treatment of the original book by the MGM screenwriters, Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire have written in their screenplay the Kansas scenes (presented in the old Academy ratio and in black and white) with characters who will appear in Oz in other guises but with traits comparable to their Kansas characters. Viewers thoroughly schooled in The Wizard of Oz will likely revel in the continual allusions to the book and film and yet Kapner and Lindsay-Abaire have not slavishly followed any set formula in creating this new version of Oz. Yes, there are Munchkins and Winkies and Flying Monkeys, the poppy field is there as is the dark forest and the yellow brick road, and it’s delightful seeing the genesis of what will be familiar sets from the MGM movie (particularly the Wizard’s throne room and the hot air balloon) eventually come together. But the film seems a little light on plot. There are so many characters for us to get to know that there hardly seems time to generate the kind of gripping narrative that pulls us along eagerly from scene to scene. Since this is an origin story film that must concentrate on getting the witches and the wizard into their proper hierarchy before Dorothy inevitably arrives, the plot suffers, and we’re left with basically a battle royal between the forces of good and evil with good basically relying on a flimsy bag of magician’s tricks to save the day.

But director Sam Raimi keeps our discoveries in this new Oz continually fresh and fun. A new China Doll character (voiced by Joey King who plays a crippled child in the Kansas sequence) is a delightful addition to the Land of Oz, and Oscar gets his own personal flying monkey Finley (voiced by Zach Braff who plays his offstage assistant in Kansas) who becomes a welcome partner and traveling companion. Raimi protracts the Wicked Witch of the West’s fiery entrance by a few beats too many (obviously trying to outdo her original entrance in the 1939 film), but the action set pieces once the battle begins all work wonderfully and aren’t prolonged to the point of exhaustion.

James Franco’s Oscar pushes the ladies’ man idea into overdrive as the fraudulent magician/wizard, but he certainly grounds the movie and gains in confidence and appeal as the movie progresses. Having to play what turns into one of the most iconic characters in all cinema is a daunting job for Mila Kunis who gets away with it but only barely. She does manage to add some convincing heartbreak to her embittered Theodora which adds some shades to her character, something that isn’t afforded Rachel Weisz’s more conventionally evil and conniving Evanora. Michelle Williams is a lovely but perhaps too-down-to-earth Glinda, less regal and bubbly than the role’s originator. Zach Braff is a loyal companion though he might have turned up the funny just a notch while Joey King is whimsical and poignant as the delicate China.



Video Rating: 5/5  3D Rating: 5/5

The film opens windowboxed in 1.33:1 and black and white and spreads into 2.40:1 and color once the balloon crash lands in Oz, all delivered in 1080p using the AVC codec. The monochrome scenes, while not quite possessing the sepia tint as in the original 1939 film, are excellently sharp and detailed. The Oz scenes, of course, feature breathtakingly rich and super-saturated color (sometimes fluorescent but not to the point of blooming) and pleasing sharpness throughout. Black levels are superb, and entering the Dark Forest is something of a relief from the almost oppressive color of what has gone before. When the characters emerge, the color seems vivid but a little less overwhelming while still remaining a great feast for the eyes. The film has been divided into 52 chapters.

Filming the feature in native 3D yields one of the most impressive, awe-inspiring uses of the medium that the movies have yet experienced. From the opening credits which find myriad ways to place numerous objects in varied planes to please the eye, the 3D invention simply doesn’t stop. The vast expanses of both Kansas and Oz are increased with the additional depth that 3D can provide, and lovers of forward projections will simply delight in the fascinating ways the director finds to shoot things from beyond the frame. From fire that flies outward beyond the windowboxing in the introduction to the Kansas carnival to birds, hats, snow (particularly impressive as Oscar lands in Oz), water droplets and water spit at the camera, broken mirror glass, and spears, the pop-outs are numerous but not to the point of overuse. And you’ll be hard pressed not to flinch several times as various visages come thrusting out to greet/scare you.



Audio Rating: 5/5

The disc defaults to a Dolby 2.0 Surround track (for those watching the disc and feeding the sound only to the TV speakers), but the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix is a remarkable achievement with continual delights for the ear. When the balloon is thrust up inside the cyclone, the surrounding sound is as enveloping as anything ever presented in a surround track. The hideous screeches of the winged monkeys will tax even the most sophisticated sound systems, and the mixture of continual sound effects which pan through and around the soundstage frequently, music (engaging score by Danny Elfman), and beautifully recorded dialogue (bound to the center channel) are melded in perfect harmony.



Special Features Rating: 0/5

Promo Trailer (3D, HD): Monsters University

Digital Copy Instructions



Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Not the most compelling narrative, Oz the Great and Powerful is nevertheless an entertaining fantasy adventure featuring some of the most well-known characters from literature and films in a newly inspired creation with some sparks of genuine imagination and whimsy. While the 3D edition (which outrageously retails for the list price of a multi-disc set rather than a single disc one) includes no 2D version nor any of the bonus features which can be found on that release, those with 3D capabilities are encouraged to find a way to view this exquisitely conceived 3D production in that process.


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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#2 of 18 Adam Gregorich

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Posted June 04 2013 - 06:02 PM

I don't agree with how Disney handled the 3D release.  I can see maybe not including the 2D Blu-ray, but to make it bare bones?


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#3 of 18 Matt Hough

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Posted June 04 2013 - 06:34 PM

I agree with you. I think this is an experiment that has brought some of the most poisonous word of mouth I've ever read. I hope this is the last time Disney tries this with a 3D release.



#4 of 18 pitchman

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Posted June 04 2013 - 06:34 PM

I saw an unboxing video of the 2D combo pack on YouTube and one of the inserts in the case is an offer to get a copy of the 3D version for $5.99 direct from Disney (I assume plus shipping and handling. It's hard to make out all of the details of the offer in the low-res video). If I recall correctly, I believe it also made mention of an extra 50 DMR points with purchase. My game plan is to get the combo pack at Walmart (or price match at Target or BB). The word is Walmart will have an advertised price of $19.99. Plus, I have the Scott Rewards $7.00 off manufacturer's coupon. So, if I play my cards right, I can get the whole thing for around $20. That certainly takes the sting out of the purchase for me, but as always, YMMV. At the end of the day, this is an absolutely crazy release plan by Disney! They're obviously experimenting with a new marketing formula, but I can't imagine what it is that they're trying to prove... Is it that no one in their right mind will pay $44.99 for a bare-bones 3D disc? If so, then I guess it's mission accomplished.


Edited by pitchman, June 04 2013 - 06:38 PM.

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#5 of 18 JeremyR

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Posted June 05 2013 - 09:53 AM

This is in unbelievably bad form.  I am not yet the owner of a 3D TV, but I have nearly exclusively been purchasing my must-have blu-ray's (of which this is one) in 3D Blu-ray/blu-ray combo packs now for the better part of a year and a half or so.  For one thing, even when I move to 3D, not all TV's will be 3D in my house, but they are all Blu-ray.  I can't believe how they are selling these. 



#6 of 18 ahollis

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Posted June 05 2013 - 11:14 AM

Without a 3D/2D combo pack, I'm not going to bite. While I enjoyed the film and like to have it, I want both versions in one package not have to purchase two. And I don't think the offer from Disney to purchase a copy directly is the proper consumer answer.
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#7 of 18 Robert Crawford

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Posted June 05 2013 - 03:24 PM

Without a 3D/2D combo pack, I'm not going to bite. While I enjoyed the film and like to have it, I want both versions in one package not have to purchase two. And I don't think the offer from Disney to purchase a copy directly is the proper consumer answer.

I went ahead and preordered the UK release scheduled for July 1st which has both versions in it.


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#8 of 18 RolandL

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Posted June 06 2013 - 06:07 AM

Is the UK release region locked? There was something on Amazon.co.uk that said it was but I can't find it now.

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#9 of 18 Matt Hough

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Posted June 06 2013 - 06:34 AM

The 2D and 3D versions here are not region locked, so I don't really see why the UK versions would be.

#10 of 18 JeremyR

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Posted June 06 2013 - 02:24 PM

I went ahead and preordered the UK release scheduled for July 1st which has both versions in it.

I have never ordered a movie from outside the states.  Exactly how does one go about doing that?  Do you order from like Amazon UK?



#11 of 18 Robert Crawford

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Posted June 06 2013 - 02:49 PM

I have never ordered a movie from outside the states.  Exactly how does one go about doing that?  Do you order from like Amazon UK?

That's one way.


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#12 of 18 Todd J Moore

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Posted June 15 2013 - 09:52 AM

Does anyone know if the 2D version is an alternate cut of the 3D? I picked up the 2D cut and the river fairies don't spit at the camera and the fire blown doesn't leave the windowboxing. Could it be that there really is 2 different cuts?


Viewing a 3D movie in 2D is kinda like viewing a Scope movie in Pan and Scan.


#13 of 18 DavidJ

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Posted June 15 2013 - 07:16 PM

Without a 3D/2D combo pack, I'm not going to bite. While I enjoyed the film and like to have it, I want both versions in one package not have to purchase two. And I don't think the offer from Disney to purchase a copy directly is the proper consumer answer.

 

I wholeheartedly agree.

 

I went ahead and preordered the UK release scheduled for July 1st which has both versions in it.

 

I will probably do this as well. Thanks for reminding me of the option. 



#14 of 18 Stephen Brooks

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Posted June 18 2013 - 10:37 PM

Does anyone know if the 2D version is an alternate cut of the 3D? I picked up the 2D cut and the river fairies don't spit at the camera and the fire blown doesn't leave the windowboxing. Could it be that there really is 2 different cuts?


I saw this theatrically in 2D only, and I couldn't figure out what the heck people were talking about when they talked about things "leaving the windowboxing". I think there are indeed different versions.

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#15 of 18 Mike_G

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Posted July 24 2013 - 06:21 PM

So, does the 3D version have the faries spitting at the camera, and the fire going out of the windowboxing? Not that it's going to make or break me buying it, I'd just like to know since that's how I saw it in the theater.



#16 of 18 Matt Hough

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Posted July 24 2013 - 07:14 PM

So, does the 3D version have the faries spitting at the camera, and the fire going out of the windowboxing? Not that it's going to make or break me buying it, I'd just like to know since that's how I saw it in the theater.

 

Mike, I mentioned both of those 3D effects in the video quality part of the review above.


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#17 of 18 Mark-P

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Posted July 24 2013 - 07:19 PM

Mike, I mentioned both of those 3D effects in the video quality part of the review above.

Like anyone is actually expected to read the actual review in a review thread!  :)



#18 of 18 Mike_G

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Posted July 24 2013 - 07:40 PM

I read the first paragraph, got distracted by a phone call, apparently skipped the second. Sorry :D

 

Good review. I almost picked this up, but I was iffy on the movie itself. I'm a sucker for a good demo movie, though.







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