So, last Saturday we went to the first big popcorn fantasy pic of the year, "Oz the Great and Powerful." I'd heard a lot of good things about this one, and I'd say it (mostly) lives up to the hype. I'm not too familiar with the Oz books, so I don't know how it stacks up in comparison, but I think this movie fits in nicely with the 1939 "Wizard of Oz." Filming the beginning in black and white, then changing to color when he reaches Oz was a nice homage to the original movie.
This one is a prequel, telling the story of how a carnival magician made his way to Oz and became the great and powerful Wizard of Oz. James Franco is a great Oz, oozing smarmy charm with just enough heart to make you believe he could come to care about something more than himself. Michelle Williams is a charming Glinda the Good, though she really doesn't have all that much to do until the end. As the wicked witches who control the Emerald City, Rachel Weisz as Evanora is quite entertaining. She pulls off menacing evil without crossing the line into cartoonish melodrama.
Mila Kunis as the younger witch, Theodora, isn't quite as successful in my opinion. Fantasy dialogue is hard, and if the actor doesn't buy into it completely, it comes across as just so much gibberish. Mila seems awkward and uncomfortable with the lines at times, and after Theodora's transformation, she's a little too over-the-top to be believable. Nothing against Ms. Kunis as an actor, I've liked her in other roles, I just think she was miscast here. (I'd like to see what Natalie Portman would have done with the role.)
The computer animation is beautiful - it really looks like another world. At times, it's easy to forget that Oz's companions for most of the movie - flying monkey Finley and the little China Doll - are computer generated. Though there's still a ways to go before interaction between human actors and computer characters is completely flawless, this movie comes pretty close.
All in all, worth the money to see in the theater.