Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Who doesn’t know that old adage? Not to spoil the movie too much for that have yet to see it, but it is this adage that serves as the basis for Disney’s new live action/CGI based Oz The Great and Powerful. This latest big screen adaptation of author L. Frank Baum’s Oz books was met largely with mixed reviews when it premiered in early 2013. The fact that it was released to DVD and Blu-ray only a couple months after didn’t bode well for this movie. Luckily for the movie, the bonus features included in its home release have managed to save it and make it worthy of a second watch.
The hybrid live action/CGI origin story of the wizard and the witch does an impressive job in its attempts to pay homage to The Wizard of Oz. The sets used for the Emerald City are just as impressive as those used in the earlier story. That the film makers would try to stay as true as possible to Baum’s fantasy world is worthy of at least some praise. Making their efforts even more worthy of praise is what is revealed in the behind-the-scenes feature, “Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas To Oz.” Viewers learn in this feature that CGI was only one method of movie magic used in this movie. It is revealed that actual puppets were used in conjunction with CGI elements in order to bring both the China Girl and Finley to life. It isn’t very often in this era of largely computer driven special effects blockbusters see such a style of special effects used. So even in this aspect, it is nice to see that those behind the cameras would go so far in paying tribute to classic film making.
The use of puppets was quite an impressive revelation about this story’s creation. In connection, the use of CGI to put the faces of Joey King and Zach Braff onto the China Girl and Finley was just as worthy of praise. It would have been easy to just use CGI based creations and had the pair voice them. But instead, their faces were put onto the pair. There is something special about this. Even Sweeter was that both king and Braff voiced their characters. It shows again the drive to make the story as believable as possible. It was very nice to see the charged with making this happen took their jobs so seriously. It proves yet again the importance of bonus features in the home release of any movie.
Viewers that check out the feature focusing on the special effects and general production values of Oz The Great and Powerful will hopefully gain new respect for the film. If it doesn’t achieve its intended goal, then perhaps the companion feature, “Walt Disney and the Road To Oz” will help in that effort. It is a much shorter feature in comparison to the previously mentioned bonus feature. But it goes quite well in companion to the behind-the-scenes feature. Viewers learn in this companion piece that Walt Disney had actually wanted for years before his death, to bring to life his own take on Baum’s works in a movie titled, The Rainbow Road to Oz. Yet for a variety of reasons, he never did see those efforts bear any fruit before his passing in 1966. It wouldn’t be until 1985 that the company bearing his name would see the release of an Oz-centric story in Return to Oz. This movie was nowhere near as family friendly as the hit 1939 blockbuster that was The Wizard of Oz. Keeping all of this in mind in watching Oz The Great and Powerful, one can’t help but have at least some extra respect for everything that went into bringing this latest adaptation to life. And with any luck, viewers will understand in watching these (and the movie’s other bonus features) that this latest film adapted from Baum’s books is worthy of at least one watch. For those that saw it in theaters, they will hopefully see that it is worth a second watch.
Oz The Great and Powerful is available now on a variety of platforms. It is available both in stores and online and can be ordered direct from the Disney Store and Disney DVD store at http://www.disneystore.com and http://disney.go.com/thewizard/.
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