Oz: The Great and Powerful opened on Friday, March 8 to decidedly mixed reviews from film’s top critics.

Although Oz: The Great and Powerful was a box office smash this weekend, not every critic believes it was so deserving. All points to be considered when a movie is reviewed – actor’s performances, directing, visual effects and the narrative were disputed to different conclusions. One thing that the critics had in common was a passion that tends to uniquely accompany film projects that recreate (or serve as a prequel to) a seminal film of the past.

How did Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis and James Franco do in their Kingdom of Oz performances? “Michelle Williams gives a luminous but grounded turn as Glinda the Good. Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis portray sisters Evanora and Theodora,” wrote the Denver Post’s Lisa Kennedy. “One's strategically nasty, the other turns toward the darkness out of hurt.” As for Franco, Slate’s Dana Steven’s observed, “Depending on the role, James Franco can be a slyly charismatic screen-stealer or a wet sock of the first order. His performance as the feckless magician Oscar—nicknamed Oz—firmly belongs in the wet-sock category.”

Sam Raimi, the director who helmed the Spiderman trilogy starring Tobey MacGuire was both lauded and denigrated. “[…]once we get to Oz, the movie's — frankly — ugly,” wrote Stephen Whitty of The Star-Ledger. “The landscapes are too much. The colors are too bright. It's all sticky-sweet excess, like a case of Strawberry Shortcake food poisoning.” The Detroit Press’s Tom Long disagrees. "[Raimi] loves to sweep his cameras past occasionally blurring color cascades, and his overhead crowd shots can be dizzying,” he wrote. “But he also has a fine eye for wonder, and his brash use of 3-D effects is just old school enough to work in this context.”

Raimi included two leading CGI characters – Finlay the monkey sidekick voiced by Zach Braff, and the china doll voiced by Ramona and Beezus actress Joey King. Some critics were not impressed. “It’s hard to imagine a more irritating pair of co-adventurers. The monkey, who’s sworn fealty to Oz for having saved his life, is so gratingly servile you start wishing the Wicked Witch’s own airborne primates would repurpose him as a snack,” Stevens wrote on Slate. “And the little china girl, while cunningly animated, seems to have been imported from the L. Frank Baum universe mainly as a sentimental catalyst for Oz’s too-late conversion to nice guy.” Mick LaSalle from the San Francisco Chronicle is at odds with Steven’s writing, “The most moving element in the film is the character of the porcelain doll. […] Time stands still in the best way for the scene in which Oz glues the doll's legs back together.”

Other critics complimented the costume designer Gary Jones, while others believe the sentiment and morality associated with The Wizard of Oz was lost in the theatrics of Oz: The Great and Powerful. However, something many might actually agree on is this stated by LaSalle: "Oz the Great and Powerful has one flaw that keeps it from lifting off and soaring: It's 130 minutes long, and that's just too much for a fairy tale.”

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