'Oz The Great and Powerful': Clever, enjoyable escapism, great cast


The tornado is one tip of the hat to "The Wizard of Oz" but it's not the only one here and that's just one of the things that makes "Oz The Great and Powerful" so much fun.

The tornado brings a con man circus magician to Oz, where there's hope he may be the wizard they've all been waiting for to make life better.

James Franco plays the role with a comedic edge. Some of his best moments involve a very endearing new character known as China Girl.

Oz and his trusty talking monkey sidekick are out to kill a wicked witch and reap the rewards. Zach Braff is terrific as the monkey.

The witches of Oz are well-played by Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis.

I saw the film in 3-D, and it's worth wearing the glasses. The 3-D really enriches the visual experience.

The "PG"-rated film from director Sam Raimi has some scary moments and I thought about whether they were too scary for small kids. But in hindsight, "The Wizard of Oz" felt scary when I was a kid, and it's rated "G."

"Oz The Great and Powerful" offers nostalgia, adventure, escapism and family-friendly fun, all done in clever and creative ways.

There are some clever references to "The Wizard of Oz" here. I won't spoil them for you -- just know there are a few nice winks to the 1939 film classic.

"Oz The Great and Powerful" is enjoyable escapism, a pleasant surprise. It gets a big "yes" from me.

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