Oz: The Great and Powerful certainly was a risk. Simply the undertaking of the endeavor of making a prequel to one of the most beloved movies of all time, The Wizard of Oz, could be seen by some as utter blasphemy. Yet, with Sam Raimi at the helm there could be a chance that the film could work.
Judging by the solid response from critics (we too loved it in our theatrical Oz: The Great and Powerful review) and audiences that turned the film into a blockbuster, perhaps it wasn’t such a crazy idea after all.
Oz: The Great and Powerful lands on DVD and Blu-Ray and it is chock full of bonus features that makes it one of the finest must-own home video releases of the year.
The story is pretty well known by now. James Franco is Oz, an early twentieth century magician in a traveling circus who uses sleight of hand not only in his show, but in his relationships. His heart belongs to Michelle Williams’ Annie, yet he cannot commit and while he is explaining that to her, the boyfriend of one of Oz’s conquests (the strong man!) seeks to make him pay for an affair with his girlfriend. Oz leaps on a hot air balloon to escape a definite beating.
A tornado grabs his balloon and sends him… you guessed it: to the Emerald City.
We get to see how this man who is more conman than true man of magic becomes the leader of this magic world, decades before he imparts his wisdom on Dorothy, The Tin Man, The Lion and The Scarecrow.
Mila Kunis’ Theodora is the first person who greets Oz in this new world. She believes that he is the man who lore has it will save their land from the wicked witch who is currently ruling with an iron fist. But, by breaking her heart, Oz may have set in motion the end of the Emerald City and the hope it represents.
Joining The Dark Knight Rises and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the Oz: The Great and Powerful Blu-Ray features a second screen feature that takes viewers deep into the filmmaking process, while simultaneously watching the film. It includes everything from an interactive map that gives audiences a series of secrets and surprises that emerge from the simple downloading of the second screen Oz app.
Another brilliant addition to the bonus features is My Journey in Oz by James Franco -- a personal story produced and directed by James Franco. Franco, a filmmaker in his own right, shows how keenly aware he is of the importance that is placed on the actor who would be Oz. It is a surprisingly personal and insightful account by a notoriously private performer.
Zach Braff plays dual roles, in the “real” world and in Oz. In the magical land, he is a talking monkey, Finley, who serves as a servant of sorts to Oz. In the bonus feature Sleight of Hand: Zach Braff Puppet Theater, the actor and voice of Finley, Braff introduces viewers to the Finley mockup. It is a marvel to say the least.
Also gripping are the featurettes The Enchanting Characters and Creatures of Oz, The Sounds of Magical Oz that illustrate how the sonic succulence is created. And speaking of sound, Mr. Elfman’s Musical Concoctions and its interview with composer Danny Elfman provides unparalleled insight into how the powerful score for Oz: The Great and Powerful came to be.
One of the breakout stars of the film is a new character in the Oz world, China Girl. In the documentary China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief, how the porcelain beauty came to life is shown with wizard-like magic.
The crème de la crème of the entire bonus feature section of the home video release is Walt Disney and the Road to Oz. The Wizard of Oz is an MGM property, and it is common knowledge in Hollywood that Walt Disney himself was utterly fascinated with the film. The fact that the Mouse House produced Oz: The Great and Powerful is shown in this featurette as the ultimate of tributes to the man whose company bears his name.