[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]
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL
Studio: Walt Disney
Product Release: June 11, 2013
Audio: DTS Master-HD Audio 7.1; Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0
Running Time: 130 Minutes
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
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.
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....
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
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
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
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!
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
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
If buying blind, do so with extreme caution.