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—David Starr Jordan
Oz the Great and Powerful  (2 discs) ...
(2 hours 10 minutes)
Synopsis: A frustrated circus magician from Kansas is transported to a magical land called Oz, where he will have to fulfill a prophecy to become the king, and release the land from the Wicked Witches using his great (but fake) powers.
Reaction: Charming and creative. But a bit of flash over substance.
Personal Rating: 7/10
Random Trivia For This Title:
- Christoph Waltz was in early talks to play a role.
- [?] Hilary Swank and Michelle Williams were director Sam Raimi's first choices for the role of Evanora. Rachel Weisz got the script through her agent and loved the role but neither the studio or Sam Raimi imagined her for the part. Weisz auditioned and had a two hour conversation with Raimi and later she was cast as Evanora. Williams was eventually cast as Glinda.
- Before Sam Raimi signed on to direct the film, directors Sam Mendes and [?] Adam Shankman were also reported to be top candidates.
- John C. Reilly was considered for the role of Frank.
- Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp were both offered the role of Oz. Downey wasn't interested; Depp liked the role but was already committed to The Lone Ranger.
- Oz gives his full name as: Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmanuel Ambrose Diggs. That makes his initials: O.Z.P.I.N.H.E.A.D.
- Michelle Williams' character Annie is marrying a man named John Gale. Director Sam Raimi has confirmed that Annie and John are intended to be the (previously unnamed) parents of Dorothy Gale, the main character in The Wizard of Oz and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (book), and a primary or secondary character in most of the other books.
- Director Sam Raimi and composer Danny Elfman had a major falling out during the post-production of Spider-Man 2, with Elfman stating that they would never work together again. With this film, they were able to patch things up and reconcile.
- Producer [?] Joe Roth was intrigued by the prospect of exploring the origins of the Wizard of Oz character: "During the years that I spent running Walt Disney Studios, I learned about how hard it was to find a fairy tale with a good strong male protagonist. You've got your Sleeping Beauties, your Cinderellas and your Alices, but a fairy tale with a male protagonist is very hard to come by. But with the origin story of the Wizard of Oz, here was a fairy tale story with a natural male protagonist. Which is why I knew that this was an idea for a movie that was genuinely worth pursuing." Screenwriter Mitchell Kapner felt the same way about the character.
- Art director [?] Robert Stromberg cited the Disney animated films Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Sleeping Beauty as an influence on Oz's landscape design. [?] Robert Stromberg studied the films of Frank Capra and [?] James Wong Howe to achieve the appropriate Art Deco design for the Emerald City of Oz.
- Last movie picture of John Paxton, father of actor Bill Paxton and also a frequently partner in Sam Raimi movies.
- Confirmed by both Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi's personally owned 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 appears in this film, and like it's appearance in The Quick and the Dead it was stripped down to it's chassis and used as a wagon, although it is unclear which wagon.
- Because Time Warner owns the rights to certain iconic elements of The Wizard of Oz MGM film, including the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland, Disney was unable to use them nor any character likenesses from that particular film. This extended to the green of the Wicked Witch's skin, for which Disney used what its legal department considered a sufficiently different shade called "theostein" (a portmanteau of "Theodora" [Greek for "gift from God"] and Frankenstein). However, the studio could not use the signature chin mole of Margaret Hamilton's portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West. The prosthetics they designed for Mila Kunis demanded four hours to apply and another hour to remove, with Kunis taking nearly two months to fully recover from the subsequent removal of the makeup from her skin.
- The Tin Man is the only one of Dorothy's three companions in The Wizard of Oz not to be directly referenced in this film. However, the Tinkers - who do not appear the 1939 film, but play a crucial role in this movie - are noted in the book as the creators of the Tin Man.
- This is Sam Raimi's first film to be rated PG in the United States. All his previous directorial films have been PG-13 or R.
- Though this film is ostensibly based only on the series of "Oz" books by L. Frank Baum and not the famous 1939 musical for legal reasons (the Oz stories are public domain, however the 1939 film and all elements original to it are owned by Warner Bros.), the movie does borrow heavily from The Wizard of Oz:
* the film opens in sepia tone and in the old 1.33:1 academy ratio for the Kansas sequences, then switches to 2.35:1 Widescreen and color in Oz
* the Wicked Witch of the West is green, travels via fire cloud, shoots fireballs, and rides on a smoking broom
* Glinda travels by bubble
* multi-colored horses (i.e. the "horse of a different color") appear in a pasture outside Emerald City
* the Munchkins perform a musical number
* the design and constant reference to the road of yellow brick as the "Yellow Brick Road" (Baum never referred to it as such)
* the Art Deco design of the Emerald City, especially the Wizard's throne room and his methods of illusion are all strongly influenced by the 1939 movie
* rainbows appear often throughout the film, an allusion to the signature song "Over the Rainbow"
* many of the costumes, especially Glinda, Theodora (after she becomes wicked), the Munchkins, and the Winkies, are extremely similar to the 1939 versions
* the appearance of Finley is directly inspired by the "bellhop" costume of the 1939 monkeys; the other flying monkeys in this film are a new, "scarier" design based on baboons
* actors from the Kansas sequence also play Oz characters with similar attributes: Frank and Finley (Oz's long-suffering but loyal assistants); Annie and Glinda (Oz's love interests); the girl in the wheelchair and China Girl (both need Oz's help to walk)
* While visiting the Oz cemetery, as Glenda shows Oscar her father's statue, the statue closely resembles Frank Morgan, who played multiple roles in The Wizard of Oz
* Bert Lahr's great-grandson, played a tinker in the movie. Bert Lahr was the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz
* Early on, Oscar (Oz) makes mention of his shabby jacket. There is a famous story of how a shabby jacket was purchased at a used clothing store for use in The Wizard of Oz movie. It was later discovered (and confirmed) that the jacket was originally made for and owned by L. Frank Baum (the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)
* The Emerald City flag's lion is strongly reminiscent of the MGM lion logo (The Wizard of Oz was produced by MGM)
- Sam Raimi opted to use practical sets in conjunction with computer-generated imagery: physical sets were constructed so the actors could have a visual reference, as opposed to using green-screens for every scene.
- Zach Braff and Joey King were on set to record their dialogue simultaneously with the other actors, whenever their CG characters (Finley and the China Girl) were present in a scene.
- Olivia Wilde, Amy Adams, Blake Lively, Kate Beckinsale, Keira Knightley, Rebecca Hall, and Kristen Stewart were considered for the roles of the witches. Blake Lively was even offered the role of Glinda but was working on another movie.
- During the scene when the Master Tinker (Bill Cobbs) demonstrates the image projector to Oz, they are shown wearing goggles with green lenses. This is a reference to the original novels where all the citizens of the Emerald City wear green-tinted goggles to protect their vision from the bright emeralds and jewels the city is constructed of. In reality, it is another illusion by the "great" wizard to trick Oz's citizens into believing the entire city is colored green, as a sample of his power.
- To prepare for his role as a circus magician, James Franco received training with magician [?] Lance Burton.