“Oz the Great and Powerful” is a color-drenched, effects-busy origin story, a prequel to L. Frank Baum’s original “Wizard of Oz” tale. The Sam Raimi-directed film is a campy, cartoony romp that gets silly and laughable from time to time, but it gives the beloved classic an acceptable backstory.
Oz (James Franco) is actually an unappreciated but smarmy circus magician, Oscar Diggs, who finds himself swept to another world, inhabited by both magical and familiar beings.
Believed to be the wizard prophesied to help its troubled inhabitants, Oscar meets friends and foes alike shortly after his arrival. He actually sees opportunity in pretending to be the destined savior and considers scamming his way to riches and other benefits. But a change of heart is inevitable, and he just might save the realm from the clutches of the sinister witch Evanora (Rachel Weisz).
“Oz” is, as previously mentioned, heavily enhanced by special effects. It’s meant to be seen in the 3D format, as the various debris, creatures, and energy bolts flying off the screen repeatedly remind you. The artificiality can get tiring, however, and the periodic overacting can take you out of it. Still, it may delight much younger audiences, although even they might have a difficult time liking the collection of digitally rendered and human sidekicks.