Oz the OK and Sorta Effective
Critics not over the raindow for Sam Raimi and James Franco's prequel
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2013 10:11 AM CST

(Newser) – Sam Raimi's prequel to the Wizard of Oz hits theaters this weekend, but critics weren't exactly swept up and blown away by it. While few really hated Oz the Great and Powerful, few loved it either, and most concluding James Franco was a poor choice for the lead. Here's what people are saying:

  • The movie makes "an honest effort to capture the family-movie spirit of old Hollywood," writes Alex O'Hehir at Salon. But it winds up feeling like "a lumbering, bloated spectacle," with no real point and a badly miscast lead in Franco. "I can tell he made all sorts of acting-school decisions about this character, but I don’t think we needed his introspective, discount-Brando act when it came to playing the Wizard of freakin’ Oz."

  • Ty Burr at the Boston Globe was not transported. "The landscapes have the craggy, familiar 'awesomeness' of every other computer-generated fantasy film these days," he gripes. The film does have a great ending, but that just makes you realize that the men behind the curtain/camera "are more interested in building a new machine than in taking us over the rainbow and bringing us back home."
  • In Franco and Raimi "you have two determined ironists tackling a fable of utter sincerity," muses Peter Howell at the Toronto Star. Raimi plays it straight, which is both a good and bad thing. "You could easily see this playing as part of a double bill with The Wizard of Oz, even if the effects in Raimi's film often look cheesier."
  • Mick LaSalle at the San Francisco Chronicle gives the film high marks—his only criticism is that it's too long, and "the individual scenes are so good that … it's hard to say what exactly should be cut." Fans of the original especially will appreciate it. "Appreciate," he stresses. "Enjoy. Admire. Be glad to see. Have fun with ... But as for love—well, love will be harder to come by."