Oz the Great and Powerful

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Oz the Great and Powerful Movie Poster Image
Colorful prequel is scarier, less magical than the original.
  • PG
  • 2013
  • 130 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 26 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 91 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Despite the overwhelming odds against them, Oz, his friends, and the good people of Oz band together to save the land from evil. There's a recurring emphasis on the idea that when you believe (in yourself, in others, in a dream), anything is possible, as well as the notion that people can change for the better if they're given the chance -- and others' trust. Evil characters are driven by vengeance and jealousy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both Glinda and Annie see vast potential in Oz, even if he's a self-described con-man magician who -- at least at first -- is quick to take advantage of others and put his own selfish interests above all else. Glinda is optimistic, self-sacrificing, and wise; China Girl and Finley are faithful companions who teach Oz the meaning of unconditional friendship. The wizard rises to the occasion to save the people of Oz, and even at the end, he offers the Wicked Witch a chance to redeem herself.

Violence

The flying monkeys are now flying, screeching baboons with big talons, and they can be downright terrifying, especially in 3-D. Early in the film, the circus strong man chases and tries to beat up Oz; the twister scene that follows is intense (this is another instance where 3-D ups the intensity, with sharp projectiles flying toward Oz, objects hurtling through storm clouds, etc.). Glinda is tortured (via magic) and must battle her evil enemies, who look quite scary and can be frighteningly wicked. China Town and all its inhabitants are mostly destroyed, and the orphaned China Girl is left with broken legs. One main character's transformation into the Wicked Witch of the West is freaky, although she's not as ugly as the original Wicked Witch. The wizard navigates some intense river rapids upon his initial arrival in Oz, plummeting down a scary waterfall, and he's later charged by a hungry lion and attacked by fierce piranha-like plants (again, scary in 3-D). Theodora hurls fireballs when her temper flares, and angry tears leave scars on her cheeks. China Girl briefly wields a knife in one scene (played for humor); soldiers use spears. Scenes in the Dark Forest include creepy eyes and a spooky graveyard. One scene near the end briefly suggests the death of a main character.

Sex

Oz is quite the womanizer; he kisses four different women over the course of the movie, and there are a few innuendos about his various conquests. Theodora wears what looks like a corset top in one scene; earlier, she's shown wearing very tight leather pants and a jacket. The Wicked Witch is fairly busty as well. Oz's treatment of women is the cause of a lot of anger and destruction.

Language

"Damn" is used a couple of times; also "shut up."

Consumerism

Although the movie itself contains no product/brand references outside of the book and classic film, Disney has merchandise partnerships with everything from makeup and apparel companies to stationery and games.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In the Kansas section, a clown drinks from a flask during Oz's magic performance.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Oz the Great and Powerful is considerably darker and more intense than The Wizard of Oz. While it pays tribute to the original film, the main character this time is an adult, rather than a girl, and the themes are accordingly more mature. For much of the movie, Oz (James Franco) is a selfish, egotistical ladies' man; he flirts to get his way and ends up kissing four different characters. (He also says "damn" a couple of times.) And if the Wicked Witch's flying monkeys in the 1939 classic frightened your kids, the flying baboons in this prequel may terrify them (particularly in 3-D), as will the general cruelty of the evil characters and the plight of the orphaned China Girl. Glinda is also briefly tortured (via magical lightning), and there's an intense twister scene and several "jump" moments that are especially startling in the 3-D version. The Wicked Witch's transformation is creepy, though ultimately she doesn't look quite as scary as the original. On the bright side, the movie offers a lasting lesson about how teamwork and friendship between unlikely allies can overcome obstacles and how a person's legacy lives on in people's hearts and minds.

User Reviews

Adult Written byShivom Oza March 7, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) Review by Shivom Oza – Ordinary and Weak

‘Oz the Great and Powerful’, which is a prequel to L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, and also an unofficial prequel to the 1939 film... Continue reading
Parent of a 3 and 5 year old Written byMommyBKnowsBest March 8, 2013

Great for Date Night, leave the Kiddos at home

In my opinion I don’t think this movie is a family-friendly movie, especially if you have small children. There were a few “scary” parts in the movie including... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byBooks rule March 8, 2013

Amazing!

I really enjoyed this movie. Violence is moderate. Mostly, it's just people threatening and scaring others and there is no blood. I saw it in 3-D and it wa... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old March 7, 2013

9+

This movie is correctly rated pg it has, moderate fantasy violence and threat Also mild Language

What's the story?

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL opens in the familiar black-and-white landscape of early 1900s Kansas. Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a charming magician nicknamed Oz, charms a pretty country girl with an obviously fake story about his grandma's music box. During his show, a young girl in a wheelchair (Joey King) asks him to make her walk, but he demurs and has to stop the show in relative disgrace -- until he sees the one local girl he cares about, Annie (Michelle Williams). When a fellow carnie comes after Oz for flirting with his girl, Oz escapes in a hot air balloon that flies directly into a twister and then crash lands in ... somewhere that's definitely not Kansas. Confused by his colorful surroundings, Oz meets the beautiful Theodora (Mila Kunis), a young witch who explains that he must be the prophesied Wizard of Oz sent to deliver the kingdom from the evil witch. Theodora's older sister, the powerful Evanora (Rachel Weisz), promises Oz the throne if he kills Glinda and destroys her wand, but once he meets Glinda (Williams), it's clear that someone's story isn't quite right. With an adorable monkey Finley (voiced by Zach Braff) and a brave little China Girl (King) by his side, Oz must decide whether he's just a con man magician or if he can truly be the Wizard of Oz.

Is it any good?

Considering The Wizard of Oz's ironclad status as a Hollywood classic, there's no way any movie about Oz could come close to matching the magic of that masterpiece; this one certainly doesn't. Director Sam Raimi's $200 million prequel boasts elaborate visuals, stomach-flipping action sequences, and swooping shots of the colorful landscape, not to mention a capable cast. But even with three fabulous actresses as the witches and two adorable sidekicks (the monkey and the China Girl), Franco's Oz himself lacks the emotional impact that Judy Garland's Dorothy so beautifully conveyed.

The fact that Oz is a shallow womanizer who transforms (ever so slowly) into a worthy defender of the land that bears his name isn't nearly as compelling as the story of an orphaned Kansas farm girl who desperately wants to find her way home. Oz -- quite unlikable at first -- doesn't want a home, and he doesn't want to be good; he wants to be great. Greatness in this film is courtesy of the supporting characters, but Franco, while perfectly suited for Oz' smarmy trickster, has trouble pulling off the more heroic acts necessary in the third act. Visually, Raimi offers viewers a true spectacle (like the unforgettable sequence in which a character transforms into the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West), but the magic you felt when you heard "Over the Rainbow" for the first time or saw Dorothy skipping down the Yellow Brick Road? It's just not there this time around.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Oz the Great and Powerful's scary scenes. What makes it scarier than the original? Does the fact that it's a fantasy story make it any less scary? Why or why not?

  • Some critics have complained that the wizard isn't a very likeable character. Do you agree? Were you still rooting for him? Why?

  • How does Oz the Great and Powerful compare to the 1939 original (and, if you're familiar with it, the musical Wicked)? Do you think it's meant for the same age kids?

  • Do you think Hollywood should have revisited the story of Oz, even if it wasn't an actual remake?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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