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Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Joey King, Tony Cox
5 stars (out of 5)
Oz the Great and Powerful (Rialto and Hoyts), a sort of prequel to The Wizard of Oz, offers plenty of razzmatazz to lose yourself in. We start in black-and-white in tribute to the earlier film and as befits 1905 Kansas.
Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a sideshow circus magician, dreams of greatness but knows he is only a two-bit hustler. Finding himself in trouble with the circus' strongman, he steals a hot-air balloon to escape, only to fly straight into a tornado which flings him into the land of Oz, widens the screen and puts everything in glorious Technicolor.
It is all rather lovely to look at and, as Oz meets three competing witches and learns that he is viewed as a saviour figure, it becomes increasingly intriguing.
We know he is a cad but the good people of Oz think that he is a mighty wizard come to save them from the wicked witch. Of course we know that Oz is going to mend his ways, but watching him fight it all the way is pure entertainment.
Best thing: James Franco is an engaging Oz, but Michelle Williams (as Glinda) is all sweetness and light with a backbone of steel - an impressive combination to pull off.
Worst thing: Prequels are the devil because they have no suspense. We have all seen The Wizard of Oz and we know how Oz ends up.
See it with: A yearning for a Technicolor dream and a pair of ruby red shoes.
- Christine Powley