At The Movies-Oz The Great And Powerful

An entertaining prequel

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“Oz The Great and Powerful” is an entertaining prequel to the immortal classic “The Wizard of Oz.” That should define the difference between the two films, one is an immortal classic, the other is an average three saw blade movie. I did see this 3D movie in regular 2D, which might have dimmed director Sam Raimi’s vision, but I don’t think so. Raimi can do the job of the super blockbuster, having directed “Spiderman” 1, 2 and 3.

Raimi did some cool things, 3D or not. He opened the movie in a traveling carnival in 1905 Kansas in black and white, in an homage to the original. And the first run of contrasting color in the much more vivid Land of Oz is beautifully shocking. There is some typically Disneyesque eye candy like a tree of scarlet leaves which turn out to be butterflies that fly away. That is a lovely and pleasing shot. The Emerald City is green, naturally, and looks like what New York City might look like if it was entirely constructed in 1932.

And Mila Kunis looks fabulous in her red and black witch’s outfit. Kunis is an energetic and spritely actress, but isn’t allowed to be either in a flat performance that is well below her best. James Franco however is very nearly believable as the con man, a carnival magician who aspires to greatness and achieves it, of a sort. Rachel Weisz is another witch, Evanora, one of three in the movie. The original needed only two and it is hard to see that the extra added much to the experience. Michelle Williams, lately of “My Week With Marilyn,” is Glinda the good witch. She is also the love interest for the con man and would be King of Oz. Williams and Weisz turn in outstanding efforts, better than Franco’s and much better than Kunis’.

Bruce Campbell worked with Raimi in the “Evil Dead” trilogy and has a cameo as a guard. Bill Cobbs, who plays a scientist on the TV show “Eureka,” has a small but precisely crafted role as an inventor who helps the man who would be King of Oz.

This is a stupendous film with a matching budget of $215 million. It brought in $150 million worldwide over the weekend, which bodes well for the business part of the movie. This Disney film is rated a family friendly PG, but isn’t actually as scary as the original. “Oz the Great and Powerful” lasts 2 hours and 7 minutes, so we get a good value for our ticket money.

The writers and director Sam Raimi made a movie for Disney Studios that was just what the studio ordered, an effects-heavy 3D film for the whole family with no terrible flaws and no aspirations to greatness.

I did notice the new, sharper images and improved sound at the renovated theater. Real 3D will be with us soon at the Sawmill Theatres.

Jack theGiant Slayer

A thoroughly enjoyable movie

Katie Schouten

Teen reviewer

I once read a story map about the elements that make a good movie. It compared the famous storylines in “Harry Potter,” “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars.”

Coming out of the theater after seeing “Jack the Giant Slayer,” I realized how well this movie fit the map.

It had all six elements:

One, select a young male protagonist — Jack, a young farm boy.

Two, remove parents, and make him live with uncle/aunt.

Three, introduce a bearded mentor — Elmont, the leader of the Guardians fits this description.

Four, introduce supernatural help — what would the story of Jack be without the beans, plus a giant controlling crown.

Then, have a super villain — in this case, Roderick.

And lastly, there should be a character striving for redemption. This last element can best be compared to the princess Isabelle, who just wants to live her own life.

Follow the flowchart, add action and romance, and you have yourself an intriguing movie.

The most prominent part of the movie was the special effects. Besides the people and some of the landscape, the movie was all special effects. However, the animators did a good job and the giants and beanstalk looked as real as giants and a beanstalk leading up to the sky can be. The special effects added to the movie, rather than subtracting like they sometimes can. I was very impressed.

The star was, of course, Jack, played by Nicholas Hoult, whom you may remember as being Hank McCoy in “X-Men: First Class.” Combined with actress Eleanor Tomlinson as Isabelle, there was some good chemistry, although the duo was also accomplished in the other side of their roles. (Judging by the name of the movie, we can only conclude that Hoult had to slay a giant.)

Also to be commended is Ewan McGregor, who played Elmont. He provided a solid, likeable character to root for.

The opposite side of that would be Roderick, played by Stanley Tucci. He was the sort of character that you don’t like as soon as you see him, and Tucci communicated this well.

I found myself thoroughly enjoying “Jack the Giant Slayer.” The characters were intriguing, the action was good, and the special effects were fantastic. I really found myself enjoying the movie, especially with the interesting take on the “Jack and the Beanstalk” story, how the director tied it into history.

“Jack the Giant Slayer” is a movie that I would be interested in seeing again.

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