The weekend movie preview for this second weekend in March finds one of Hollywood's biggest studios taking one of the larger gambles we've seen in some time. Disney is heading back to Oz in their prequel to The Wizard of Oz, Oz: The Great and Powerful. In our opinion, it's a winner... but more on that later.
Also debuting this week is Colin Farrell in a revenge thriller, Dead Man Down, and Tommy Lee Jones bringing General Douglas MacArthur to life in Emperor.
Oz The Great and Powerful: James Franco is perfectly cast as the man who will become The Wizard of Oz. The film is a true prequel to the 1930's classic and serves as an origins story for the man behind the curtain. Sam Raimi could not have been a better choice to direct and his cast brings their A-game including Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis. As we state in our Oz: The Great and Powerful review, this is one worthy precursor to a classic.
Dead Man Down: Farrell is a man driven by vengeance in a tense thriller directed by the guy who brought us the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Noomi Rapace plays a woman who too is bent on revenge and the two create cinematic sparks throughout. Our villain in this tale is portrayed with sleazy panache by Terrence Howard. The film mostly works and the dual stories of retribution by Farrell and Rapace set it apart from other vigilante-type movies. For more, check out our Dead Man Down review.
Emperor: Jones is masterful as the military leader who helped guide the U.S. to victory in the Pacific theater in World War II. But as the film shows, winning the war may have been difficult, but winning the peace in Japan may be impossible. Matthew Fox dazzles as MacArrthur's right hand man who is leading an investigation as to whether war crime charges should be brought against Japan's Emperor. As we said in our Emperor review, we wish the story had been told from MacArthur's point of view instead of the Fox character. Fox is good, but Jones as the military icon is astounding.