Movie Review

Oz the Great and Powerful

MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of action and scary images, and brief mild language.

Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Action Adventure Fantasy 3D IMAX
Length:
2 hr. 10 min.
Year of Release:
2013
USA Release:
March 8, 2013 (wide)
DVD: June 11, 2013
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Review: “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

the sinfulness of pretending to be someone you’re not and using that to lead others to do what you want

lying and deceiving

goodness—What is a good man?

sin and evil

witches in the Bible

witchcraft

enchantments

About Wicca and Paganism

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Featuring: James FrancoOz
Mila KunisTheodora/The Wicked Witch of the West
Rachel WeiszEvanora
Michelle WilliamsAnnie/Glinda
Zach Braff … Frank/Finley
Bill Cobbs … Master Tinker
Joey King … Girl in Wheelchair/China Girl
Tony Cox … Knuck
Stephen R. Hart … Winkie General
Abigail Spencer … May
Bruce Campbell … Winkie Gate Keeper
more »
Director: Sam Raimi—“Spider-Man 3,” “The Evil Dead,” “30 Days of Night”
Producer: Walt Disney Pictures
Roth Films
more »
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

“The land you know. The story you don’t.”

Oz, The Great and Powerful hails from the land of Nebraska. He is a simple circus magician named Oscar Diggs (James Franco). Oscar’s main trick includes conning girls in every town that they are special enough for him to give his grandmother’s music box, which he has in bulk. Frank (Zach Braff) is his assistant and also plays Finley, the monkey in Oz who pledges to stay by Oscar’s side through thick and thin. While in Kansas, Oscar is visited by Annie (Michelle Williams) who is obviously in love with him. She tells him that John Gale has proposed to her. Oscar tells her she should marry John, because he is a good man, and Oscar can never be what she needs. Their conversation is cut short by the circus strong man who is holding a music box and threatening to kill Oscar. Oscar manages to escape the strong man in a hot air balloon, but finds himself in the middle of a tornado.

When Oscar touches down in a beautiful, colorful land, he is met by three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and Glinda (Michelle Williams). Everyone is waiting for the Wizard to come from the sky to fulfill the prophecy of a Great and Powerful Oz who is going to save the people. Can Oscar become the person Glinda sees in him and perform his best magic trick by saving the people of Oz, or will he head out of town after stealing the gold?

OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT: “Oz…” has very little objectionable language. There were 2 noted instances of the word “d-mn.” While Oscar is constantly trying to seduce women, and he kisses quite a few, that is the extent that you see onscreen. There are a few implied situations: Oscar puts a sock on the door when he is “practicing” with an assistant. He dances with Theodora, and the scene cuts away. Later, when they are talking, she assumes that what has happened means they are going to get married. Some people may be offended by the amount of cleavage shown by some of the costumes.

Oscar is a con man. He lies, cheats and steals, both in Kansas and in Oz. He treats Frank/Finley with total disregard. The flying monkeys are drugged in a field of poppies.

This is a fantasy movie filled with witches. There are good witches and bad witches. There is a good witch who is turned bad by deceit, trickery and misunderstanding. Her transformation is completed after eating an apple and can be scary for some younger children. The witches all use their “powers.” If you are offended by this type of movie, there is plenty to stay away from. At the end, Evanora makes a transition to an ugly old hag, and I caught my son hiding behind his hand. In Kansas, while performing a magic show, Oscar is asked to heal a lame girl, which he obviously cannot do. There is mention of “ghosts, evil spirits and the undead.”

There is plenty of violence and tense scenes. Many younger children may be afraid. This isn’t the fight scene violence. This is an imagination gone wild scary. My husband said, “These are not your grandfather’s flying monkeys.” They are much scarier than those in the original movie. The witches and the fear they inflict happen more often in this movie than in the original. One witch threatens to make the yellow brick road red with blood. The twister scene is very intense; there are scary glowing eyes in a dark forest.

Oscar comes across China Town, which is a town made of teapots and porcelain. He hears crying and finds a china doll, played by Joey King. Both her legs are broken off, and Oscar manages to “heal” her with his magic glue.

Glinda/Annie sees more in Oscar and believes the best of him. She believes he can be better than a great man; he can be a good man. We all need someone to believe in us like that. The spiritual content is what most viewers may have the hardest time dealing with, but I think this could be a time for great discussion. When Theodora eats the apple, her eyes are open to evil. There are many instances in the film that can be used to point to good versus evil and what the Bible says. Romans 5:12 says,

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”

The prophecy for Oz is that a savior will come from above and free their land from evil. Jesus is the only Savior, and Acts 4:12 says,

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Although, I did not see this movie in 3D, much of it is made with 3D in mind. A charging lion, flying butterflies, flying debris in the twister, flying fairies—all seem forced and without purpose with the intent of making your 3D price worth it. I personally hate 3D and prefer to see movies without it. Otherwise, this movie is very visually appealing. There are many Oz books on the market, but none really explain how the Wizard came to be. This movie does a very nice job of filling in the blanks and yet staying true to the feel of the original movie and books.

I do recommend this movie, however, I would not recommend it for children under the age of 10-12. I am sure that there are people who will say “my child can handle it” and many children will be able to, but it is a very intense movie. I took my 10 year old son, who loves “Star Wars” movies, but this was a little scary for him. He was visibly upset by several scenes. Overall, we enjoyed this movie very much, and I personally want to see it again.

Violence: Moderate to heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Hard to know what to say about this movie. It was fun in parts, but slow in parts. In general, not as spectacular as I hoped and expected. Mostly nonobjectionable; I don’t remember any language, and there’s certainly no sex. There are witches, “good” and “bad,” which may trouble some, I suppose. All in all I just don’t think it is quite a worthy enough successor to the original.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Jeremy Klein, age 57 (USA)
Positive—I enjoyed the film. It’s not a worthy prequel to the original classic, but if you accept it for what it is, an entertaining CGI filmed family fantasy, you’ll enjoy it. From the values perspective, the film deals with the redemption of the scoundrel and con man Oscar, who wants to be great and powerful and ends up being good. Christian history is filled with unworthy people who are redeemed and used by God to do good. The movie could be a talking point for parents.

There’s no sex and only fantasy violence. The flying monkeys aren’t as scary as in the original. The film is tailor made for 3D, so get the glasses for this one.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Keith Chandler, age 34 (USA)
Positive—Approximately halfway through this movie, the Biblical themes of the story hit me square in the face. A witch takes one bite of a green apple, and it immediately allows her to discern that her sister is the “bad” witch. “…but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die” Genesis 2:17. When Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit she fell under the power of the evil one and became mortal. It would be interesting to research the spiritual background of the screen writer of this film. He or she is quite familiar with the Bible.

For example: The people need a savior from the evil witch. “…I will put enmity between you and the woman… he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” Gen. 3:15. The savior’s arrival has been foretold in prophecy. “I will put my spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations” Is. 42:1. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—John, age 57 (USA)
Positive—I had wanted to see this movie since the first time I heard about it. I got my chance this weekend. And, I’m happy to report that I absolutely LOVED IT! James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams are nothing short of brilliant as the four main leads. The supporting cast, which includes Zach Braff, Bill Cobbs, and Bruce Campbell, are also terrific. But, I’d have to say the best part of the movie for me was the production design and art decoration. I sat there for 2 hours and 7 minutes, unable to take my eyes off the screen. This movie is GORGEOUS to look at.

As far as objectionable material, there really isn’t much to worry about. As far as language, I only counted 2 d*mns. The only other thing is, there are some scenes which may frighten small children. This is especially true in one pivotal scene, about halfway through the movie, which I will not give away. Bottom line: If you’re looking for a good time at the movies, you simply can’t do better than this
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jared, age 32 (USA)
Positive—This is an excellent movie! Especially if you are a fan of “The Wizard of Oz” and/or have always wondered about the Wizard.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Tim, age 29 (USA)
Positive—As a fan of the original Wizard of Oz, I was skeptical to delve into any so-called prequel or reinterpretations of the world of Oz. However, I saw this movie because, even with my own skepticism, it still looked like a good film, and it was just that: GOOD. While I am getting sick of all the overwhelming use of CGI in place of make-up or other techniques (the Wicked Witch) and using battle scenes to draw in an audience, there were some really good moments in here, and it should do as a family film or any night out.

This movie is meant to be fun, and it was. So, as a Christian, I can totally recommend it (young viewers may need to discuss the Witches with their parents, but there’s nothing in the film that should go to their heads). The message of Greatness and Goodness was very inspiring, and, while James Franco is not my favorite actor for this role, he gives the viewer a chance to know the difference between the two.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Katherine, age 22 (USA)
Positive—In “Oz the Great and Powerful,” Oscar learns to love better and lie less; thumbs up for that. Finley is a very good role model and hates lying, yet he remains loyal to Oscar to try to change him for the better. While he does flirt with various women, there are few hints of him sleeping with them; however, he learns to be a better person. The violence is “Light vs. Dark” for the most part, not “violence for the sake of it”. The “magic” in this movie appears to be fantasy-based (think Narnia or Lord of the Rings), rather than occult, sans for one stage show act where Oscar mentions a queen’s spirit (though it is just “part of the show,” there’s no actual spirit; still needs a mention).

The main offensive thing is when the parents of a crippled girl ask Oscar to make her walk; while their hearts are SOMEWHAT in the right place (particularly the parents wanting their daughter to walk), everyone should know only God can grant miracles such as making cripples walk (whether by Himself or asking a born-again healer to do it). Theodora (the Wicked Witch of the West) shows the consequences of listening to false hope and lies (Evanora, the Wicked Witch of the East). Overall, it was a very nice movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Peter, age 22 (USA)
Positive—I just watched this with my wife in 3D. I left the movie with great satisfaction and that it was well worth it, which is not the case for a lot of movies. 3D was very good. My wife ducked several times! Visually, it’s outstanding. I was very impressed, especially with scenery, huge flowers and detail of characters.

The content has strong redemption values of good vs. Evil and changing personal character from selfish to helping others. There is also a good message about greed. He first seeks out to horde treasure but then throws the treasure away to save the city. There is clear parallel to the Bible where believing lies leads to evil (the witch claimed to be good but was tricked into eating an apple which made her evil).

Objectionable content. The main character is a womanizer. It is a theme followed through the movie, showing him overcoming this. Mild kissing is shown, no more. The flying monkeys are scary looking. When the witch changes, she looks like a stereotypical green witch, which is also scary. Main character says to trust in each other and they can do anything. Similar to what happened in Babylon. Overall a great movie. Would recommend for all over 10. Some elements will be scary for younger kids.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Brett, age 36 (USA)
Positive—We loved this movie—my husband and four children ages 8—15. It was funny, yet it had you on the edge of your seat a number of times. Like others have already said, it does move slowly in a couple of places, but the scenery is fabulous.

I never thought for a second anywhere in the film that it was sexist. That’s one of the most ridiculous things I ever read. There was really only one witch who had a crush on him—which didn’t seem out of the norm. The good witch was very smart, and she saw his true character early on.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Lisa, age 47 (USA)
Positive—Note: I saw this movie via XFinity On Demand in 3-D. “Oz: The Great And Powerful,” intended to be a prequel to “The Wizard Of Oz,” succeeds in establishing a backstory to the story/film audiences know and love. Where it fails is in the following-WARNING: Spoiler for “The Wizard Of Oz” ahead!!!-in the original film, Dorothy DREAMS she is in Oz after she’s knocked out by a piece of wood during the tornado, whereas in this film, Oscar’s adventures really occur. So, it’s difficult to place this “Prequel” in the same continuity as “The Wizard Of Oz.” ***END SPOILER***

The 3-D was well-done, and it was obvious no expense was spared to make this film a success. The opening of the film, with the black-and-white credits, was expertly done, and clearly in loving homage to “The Wizard Of Oz.” The acting was also very good. Biblically speaking, there are only II uses of “Damn” and, as expected, violence, but nothing too intense or even graphic. A few chaste kisses was the extent of sexual content. (This IS a Disney movie, after all.)

The flying monkeys and a Witch may be scary to younger viewers, but, to quote my favorite movie, “It will turn out all right in the end.” I recommend this film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—D, age 27 (USA)
Positive—There are serious moral themes in here. One is the peril of temptation, especially at a moment of emotional vulnerability. Theodora’s innocence is corrupted by her wicked sister, who preys on her weakness. Another is that there is redemption; the callous Oz develops, through no particular merit of his own, a moral compass and good works follow from that change.

Yet another is the way the damned choose their own damnation. Theodora is offered a way back, but she flings herself into her wickedness and leaves. Evanora appears beautiful, but it is all fake—when the jewel is taken from her, her internal ugliness becomes external. She is the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

To be sure, there is an issue that has to be explained concerning Glinda—that witchcraft is NOT good. Oz doesn’t have magic in the sense of witchcraft; all his apparent magic is simply technical knowhow introduced into a land where none existed. So his “magic” isn’t really a moral defect in the film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kenneth, age 62 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I like stories with brave, heroic, strong female protagonists. This film’s blatant sexism left me wanting. It even baffles me, considering the main source material had such a strong female character (Dorothy), and Disney’s last offering had another one—in which Alice must find her “muchness” and save Wonderland. Here, the three main female characters are under-developed, boy-crazy (one literally goes “bad” because she is jilted in love) and mainly used to “antagonize” or “reward” the wizard.

He is praised and celebrated for everything that makes the “bad witches” bad: blind ambition, the desire for power, the use of illusions, intentional deception, and manipulation.

There are some good things about it, such as the religious symbolism, as another viewer remarked on in the comments.

But for me, the script was so poorly constructed that it never amounted to much of anything, the weak female characters bothered me, and the overly juvenile approach sometimes stripped the magic out of it. For the most part, I enjoyed it—but it also frustrated me, because with very little effort and some script-tweaking, it could have been much better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Charity, age 29 (USA)
Neutral—My one big problem with this movie—is that ***SPOILER***—once the witch that eats the apple is affected by it—her first thing she does is rip off the top of her dress.… Seriously—you think you might be dying and the first thing you think of to do is rip off your top??? Dear Disney—not everyone is that stupid! Then Disney makes sure the last view of her—makes her look like she has no top on at all. Others may not have noticed -but—really—it’s called being desensitized! This was a cheap shot by Disney to still get in an “almost” skin scene for an actress that has done plenty in real life! Can’t get away from that in even this Disney movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Paulette, age 48 (USA)
Negative
Negative—This Disney movie is inappropriate for children (or anyone else for that matter) due to dysfunctional and immoral character modeling, as well as inappropriate scariness. The scary scenes are much, much too intense for children. (Are they trying to traumatize children, or desensitize them??)

The wizard character is a callous, serial womanizer who calmly explains that he has no interest in living a normal life, being monogamous, or having a family as such. The woman who turns into the Wicked Witch of the West is one of the women he seduces. When she finds out he’s also been with her sister, she suffers a broken heart (crying bloody tears that carve marks in the flesh of her cheeks) and then turns intensely vengeful. As she’s undergoing a violent transformation into a wicked witch, she tears off the top of her dress, exposing her undergarments. (What kind of sickos write stuff like this for a children’s film?)

The people of the land of Oz need someone to believe in, so the wizard provides them with “what they need”: belief that he’s something he’s not. The warped messages contained in this movie are numerous. The wizard, who constantly deceives, objectifies and treats women as disposable, comes out the hero, while one of his victims comes out the villain. What a mess! Who in the world is at the helm over at Disney?! (And who in the world is reviewing the movies on this website?)
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: none
—Mike Brown, age 49 (USA)
Negative—I had no hope of seeing a biblical movie when I rented this, but this film is not “better than average”. Please don’t think that you’re going to see a movie full of Christian themes, as many have claimed. These are NOT Biblical themes: ***SPOILER***

-The prophecy in the film does not bring a savior to the land of Oz. He is “not the wizard they expected, but he may be the wizard they need.” Jesus’s sacrifice went beyond expectation. He was perfect. “The wizard” is a deceiver who only sacrifices some of his pending reward of gold near the end. There is no deception in Jesus’s sacrifice.

-Oz attempts to deceive everyone around him throughout the film and continues his deception as “the wizard” even after the “bad” witches have fled, “just in case anyone wants to speak to the wizard.” Jesus was not and is not a deceiver.

-Oz confesses his faults multiple times in the film and continues to deceive each time, up to the very end. Confession without repentance is little more than pride.

-A “good” witch eats an apple and she is immediately able to discern that her sister is in fact the wicked witch. She then becomes more evil than her sister, who opened her eyes by giving her an apple. This is not Adam and Eve. ***END SPOILER***

-Witches and magic are what they are. They are never viewed in a positive light in the Bible.

I’ve used the word deception a lot in my review, because it is used as a means to a positive end in this film. This film merely appears to hold Biblical themes. Watch with a sharp eye.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: none
—Don’t Need Movies To Be Entertained, age 32 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I saw this movie the day after the opening. I did not see it in 3-D, but the visual effects were still awesome. The movie wasn’t perfect and, yes, it could have been better. Still, it was really good. It wrapped up many loose ends, but there were still some questions (listed in 2nd to the last paragraph). If you want to take your kid to this, I say age 9+. The flying baboons are a lot scarier than in the first Oz movie. A witch threatens to make the yellow-brick road red with blood (creepy). Also, Oscar (future “wizard”) likes to seduce women and make them feel they are special to him when he gives them a music box he claims his grandmother gave him (he buys the things in bulk). He does change though.

Also, in case you haven’t heard, Disney wants to turn this into a franchise. They want to make more Oz movies that may follow the events in Oz after Dorothy. First, I think they’ll have to make a second prequel that comes after “Oz: the great and powerful.” In the original movie, Finley (my favorite character in the movie) and China girl aren’t there. What happened to them? And where did the wicked witch of the west get the ruby slippers?

Go see this movie. It’s fun. And take the pre-teens in the family.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Legolas, age 13 (USA)
Positive—I thought Oz was okay, I went with my parents to go see it in the theater. When we left, I wanted to see it again. My Mom was thinking that she was not going to let my 9 year old brother see it. There are some creepy parts. When Glinda and Oz are being chased by the wicked witch’s monkeys minions. They are like baboons with sharp teeth and very sharp claws. Oz was a little bit of a bad influence, for most of the movie, but, in the end, he sends out a good message. I personally loved this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Gabriella Ruiz, age 11 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I have not watched this movie and don’t intend to as I see it as dangerous for our souls. I want to encourage fellow Christians to look at the content of this movie. The synopsis is about witchcraft and magic. Those things are detestable to God. Would you do something you know God hates if you loved God? The synopsis also states that the magician is supposedly a hero when follows a “prophecy” by a witch.…
—Casey, age 23 (USA)
Negative—It always shocks me to see many lukewarm Christians commenting on movies concerning witchcraft where they call it good morality. There is no such thing as a good witch or bad witch. Witchcraft is detestable to God. It seems like these days Christians are more concerned with their own entertainment than living a Godly life hating what God hates, and loving what He loves. more »
—Brandi, age 31 (USA)

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