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Oz The Great And Powerful: THE HTF 3D ADDICT REVIEW

3D Blu-ray Disney

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#1 of 12 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted June 05 2013 - 05:12 AM

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[color=rgb(0,0,255);]What can I say?  I love 3D!  From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content.  I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite.  That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT.  I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky.  However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation.  These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves.  I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum.  My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released.   As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.[/color]

 
oz3d.jpeg
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL
 
Studio: Walt Disney
Product Release: June 11, 2013
Ratio: 2.40:1/1.33.1
Audio: DTS Master-HD Audio 7.1; Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0
Running Time: 130 Minutes
Rating: PG
 
post-269895-0-13032800-1364832432.jpg
 
On A Scale 0-5
 
Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 5
3D Separation: 5
3D In Yo' Face Factor: 5
 
 
So, I suppose you'll want me to start with the bad news first...
 
I can tell you right up front, as you begin reading this review, I am not
going to have many good things to say about the film, OZ THE GREAT
AND POWERFUL.  I think anytime a studio attempts to revisit a tremendously
popular classic like The Wizard Of Oz, it's only asking for trouble because
expectations generally run high from fans that hold the original so near and
dear to their hearts.
 
This was a problem for me when the studio first attempted to revisit the
classic with its 1985 film, Return To Oz, which felt more creepy and
disturbing than enchanting.  I am certain that the film absolutely worked
for audiences who were in the mood for an alternate take on the Oz universe,
and particularly those who had read the original L. Frank Baum books and 
were more familiar with its characters.  For me, Return To Oz was a horrid
80s film that I believe Disney did everything it could (at the time) to disassociate
itself from.
 
Snapshot-2013-06-05 at 08_35_03 AM-1220675141.jpg
 
I suppose enough time had passed that the studio felt it was safe enough to
revisit this sacred property once again.  If expectations again ran high that this
would be a tremendous comeback for OZ, it was only because of all the 
pre-release hype Disney put into advance trailers that were shown months
ahead of release in theaters and on television.  I must admit, I was duped into
thinking that OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL was going to be something 
absolutely amazing --- particularly for its promising special effects work.
 
Alas, once again Disney has proven that when it comes to OZ, you just
can't go back home again.
 
Snapshot-2013-06-05 at 08_44_26 AM-452630742.jpg
 
Let's begin with the most obvious problem of this film....it's so insanely miscast.
James Franco is the absolute kiss of death in this movie.  I understand that he
was not director Sam Raimi's first, nor second choice to play the lead.  Robert Downey
Jr. eventually dropped out of negotiations to star, and Johnny Depp was working
on another film.   If you thought watching Franco host the Academy Awards was
awkward, try sitting through 130 minutes of his swarmy performance.  In fact, it
can be extremely difficult sitting through the movie's dreary 20 minute opening alone,
which pretty much sets the pacing for rest of the film.
 
But Franco is not the only bad casting choice here as Mila Kunis completely drains
the film's of its color with her performance that goes from monotone to completely
laughable once she makes her Incredible Hulk transformation.  While I found 
myself entranced by the gorgeous backgrounds and special effects that were 
created for this revisit to OZ, it was apparent that most everyone within it was looking
at green screens and trying their best to imagine what we, the audience were 
actually seeing.  This was obviously a group of actors that had difficulty using their
imagination and as thus, their reactions and dialogue delivery, are completely
unbelievable to the viewer.
 
I could go on and about how much I really disliked this film.  However, I do realize
that there are many HTF members that actually enjoyed OZ THE GREAT AND 
POWERFUL, so I am going to turn and concentrate my efforts on talking about what
a phenomenal Blu-ray presentation lies in store for them....
 
Snapshot-2013-06-05 at 08_37_05 AM-975814996.jpg
 
There have been so many times that I have praised a particular Blu-ray transfer as
one of the very best I have ever seen.  Well, as far as new releases are concerned,
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL is most definitely the most breathtaking visual
experience I have ever enjoyed on this format.   You'll have to wait about 20 minutes
to see all the splendor, as the film opens in a monochrome 1.33:1 window that expands
out to a colorful 2.40:1 once the lead lands in Oz.  The transformation has an equally 
profound effect on audiences today as the original film did in 1939  -- and that's perhaps
the only credit that I can give to the filmmakers. The production is filled with immense
set designs that are larger than life.  Our first look at the land of Oz is nothing short of
eye-popping. It almost takes your breathe away. I have never seen vivid color saturation 
like this before.  One would think there were steroids in the plant food.  None of this
spectacular imagery would be possible if not for the ultra-sharp transfer that this Blu-ray
presentation provides.  Everything looks exactly as you would expect it to look, with
perfect coloration, nice inky black levels, and complete absence of encoding artifacts. 
In a word, the visual presentation is "flawless."
 
So, as much as I hated OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL as a movie, I must confess that
I was very impressed with its 3D presentation, which seems to be a bit more fun in the
film's windowboxed 1.33.1 presentation as effects often get thrown out of frame.  The 
Tornado sequence is particularly effective in 3D as we watch wind-hurled objects lunge
towards us as debris quietly floats and protrudes out of screen.  One would immediately
surmise that if so much effort was put into providing projectile 3D effects so early in the
story that there would be lots more.  Unfortunately that's only true for the first few moments
we arrive in Oz as birds and river fairies dart outside of the viewing area. As the story
progresses forward, however,  there seems to be far less emphasis placed on having objects
project themselves forward.  In fact, most props that are seemingly propelled towards the
audience (such as a fireball or thrown coinage) simply hit the confines of the display without
exceeding its boundaries. At one moment, late in the film, there's a rather effective 3D shot of
soldiers slinging their spears forward. However, at that point it's rather clear that the
filmmakers wanted to tone down all the projected gimmickry.  It's a shame, as this is the 
kind of movie that would have clearly benefited from it.
 
The 3D process really brings the awe-inspiring set pieces to life with its added dimensionality,
which comes as no surprise since the film was shot in native 3D.  You get a real feel for
distance and depth, and quite often I was surprised by foreground objects that suddenly
came into frame.  You can tell that the filmmakers put consideration into how they composed
their shots and as such, this is one of the very best 3D presentations on Blu-ray that money
can buy.
 
Snapshot-2013-06-05 at 08_37_37 AM-190025633.jpg
 
Equally immersive is one of the liveliest DTS-MA soundtracks in recent memory.  The
surround activity effectively enhances the story with some really cool effect panning
across all the channels.  Make no mistake about it, there are some real powerful sonic
moments to savor, particularly the tornado sequence where I felt my subwoofer was
reaching its level of capacity.  I was quite pleased with the dynamics of the audio
presentation.
 
Note: For some odd, ungodly reason, the Blu-ray defaults to Dolby 2.0.  I guarantee
everyone will get the same sudden warning as they are just about to delve into the
presentation.  I don't understand why Disney did this other than the fact that perhaps
there were complaints from those who listen to their audio through regular TV speakers --
but even then, wouldn't the audio just downcovert anyway?  This has got to be one
of the most unconventional things the studio has done one of their prime Blu-ray releases....
 
...well, not the only unconventional thing.  As many are already aware, Disney has 
suddenly given up the practice of including a standard 2D Blu-ray with their 3D counterpart.
I could endlessly rant about this experiment gone wrong, but I am certain that by now,
the folks at Disney Home Entertainment are well aware of anger from consumers like us.
 
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL arrives with a Blu-ray 3D and Digital Copy.  I found
the overall packaging to be lackluster.  It's not the design that bothers too much, but for
the price being charged (and its shortage of 2D Blu-ray), I would have hoped for lenticular
artwork.  
 
Want to watch some extra features after the film?  You are out of luck, bud.  The 3D
Blu-ray comes with no extras whatsoever other than a trailer for Monsters University.
Carefully hidden in the included inserts is an offer for the 2D Blu-ray with added features
for $5.99 (and added shipping).  Hmmmph!
 
 
[color=#8b4513;]CONCLUSION[/color]
 
Snapshot-2013-06-05 at 08_45_15 AM-977803120.jpg
 
No argument, OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL is a visually stunning treat to watch in
3D.  It comes from Disney, who has a reputation of releasing the best 3D titles on the
market.  This will certainly be placed high on my list of best 3D titles available.  
 
If you have kids in your home, owning this 3D release is a no-brainer.  That being said, I
can't quite recommend this as a blind purchase for adults.  This is most certainly a 
tedious film to watch thanks to its slow pacing, awful deadpan delivery and green-screen
reactions --- and most of all --- the inclusion of James Franco and Mila Kunis in the
lead roles.  
 
If buying blind, do so with extreme caution.
 

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 12 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted June 05 2013 - 07:06 AM

Luckily in the UK we are going to get a 2D and 3D version for the same price as you pay for just one version in the USA.


     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 


#3 of 12 OFFLINE   Doug Bull

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Posted June 05 2013 - 04:25 PM

Great review Ron. Many Thanks.

 

Like you I am also a 3D addict, so I'll buy this one, just as I have several other dismal titles, for the 3D alone. (John Carter anyone?)

 

From a 3D perspective it sounds like a winner.  :thumbs-up-smiley:



#4 of 12 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted June 05 2013 - 06:54 PM

It's late I haven't read the entire review, just enough to see that Ron doesn't like the movie, but loves the 3D.  My wife and I both liked this movie in the theater so it would be a slam dunk for me to buy this one.  But I'm pissed at Disney for releasing a 3D only version.

 

I may buy the UK version, it's region free isn't it?  Even then, I'm not going to rush into it.  I'm pissed at Disney.

 

BTW, recently read "John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood."  The marketing for that movie by Disney was so incompetent, that it defies belief.  BTW, I like John Carter.


Edited by Johnny Angell, June 05 2013 - 06:55 PM.

Johnny
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#5 of 12 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted June 06 2013 - 05:36 AM

It's late I haven't read the entire review, just enough to see that Ron doesn't like the movie, but loves the 3D.  My wife and I both liked this movie in the theater so it would be a slam dunk for me to buy this one.  But I'm pissed at Disney for releasing a 3D only version.

 

I may buy the UK version, it's region free isn't it?  Even then, I'm not going to rush into it.  I'm pissed at Disney.

 

BTW, recently read "John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood."  The marketing for that movie by Disney was so incompetent, that it defies belief.  BTW, I like John Carter.

 

The UK edition is region free and if you need a 2D edition as well then it's a good option for you.


     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 


#6 of 12 OFFLINE   RolandL

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Posted June 06 2013 - 11:01 AM

How much is shipping for the $5.99 3D disc?

Roland Lataille
Cinerama web site

 


#7 of 12 OFFLINE   Virgoan

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Posted June 07 2013 - 07:05 AM

For anyone at Disney actually reading (and. hopefully. learning) this column with comments, this review is what "informs" me as to whether a movie is worth purchasing (especially at high prices for very little bang for my buck).

 

This overview, and Matt Hough's more genial, but not rave, review, convinces me that I shouldn't waste a dime on this product unless it's offered at a much lower price.  Used would be okay, too.



#8 of 12 OFFLINE   Patrick Donahue

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Posted June 07 2013 - 03:44 PM

The fact that I haven't seen the movie aside (and I plan to), I'm still trying to figure out how you can even have a prequel to The Wizard of Oz when the whole point of that movie was it was all a dream!

#9 of 12 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted June 07 2013 - 07:19 PM

The fact that I haven't seen the movie aside (and I plan to), I'm still trying to figure out how you can even have a prequel to The Wizard of Oz when the whole point of that movie was it was all a dream!

 

In the 1939 movie it is a dream, but it isn't a dream in the book.



#10 of 12 OFFLINE   Doug Bull

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Posted June 07 2013 - 08:23 PM

Sorry, I can't help myself. ;)

 

..."But it wasn't a Dream -- It was a place. And you - and you - and you -  and you were there"...

...."No Aunt Em - This was a real, truly live place"....

..."Doesn't anybody believe me?"...

... "Of course we believe you, Dorothy"...

 

:3dglasses: 



#11 of 12 OFFLINE   Patrick Donahue

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Posted June 08 2013 - 09:18 AM

In the 1939 movie it is a dream, but it isn't a dream in the book.

Ahhhh, interesting...

#12 of 12 ONLINE   Wayne_j

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Posted June 12 2013 - 11:59 AM

I just ordered the 3D disc from my BD 2D/DVD set.  Total price was 5.99.  No shipping or Tax.







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