Oz The Great and Powerful

goodfellastable

This week’s list of movies to watch is not inspired by a single new release, because there isn’t anything big enough out this weekend to warrant such a focus. Instead, I’ve got a year-end feature for you inspired by the entirety of 2013 in film. I can’t sum up every title released this year with only ten recommendations, but the movies I’ve selected are, I believe, the best representatives of the more notable titles and trends seen in the past dozen months. Most of the selections are familiar. Chances are you’ve seen more than a few. But obviously this edition has to involve more popular fare because they have to be influential movies to have informed so much of this year’s crop, even if unintentionally. Just take it as a call to watch them again, along with whatever you haven’t seen before, as a special sort of year in review of the most important movies of 2013 released before 2013.

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There are two reasons for 3D. The first is to give a film a seemingly more realistic sense of depth, and the second is to give a film extra eye-popping spectacle. Presumably it’s the latter motivation behind the 75th anniversary re-release of The Wizard of Oz, which hits IMAX screens for one week this September (almost a full year ahead of its actual 75th birthday). The classic has of course been retrofitted for 3D, and a trailer just hit the web that surprisingly doesn’t play up the format too much. Or maybe it’s just that we can’t appreciate the heightened format via YouTube. When you see this spot in theaters (likely in front of 3D copies of both The Lone Ranger and Despicable Me 2), it’s sure to showcase the three-dimensional upgrade in each shot. I bet that’s why the trailer begins with a hallway. What I’m curious about is whether or not the black and white bookend sequences will be in 3D. The trailer doesn’t really feature any of those scenes, but I’m thinking it would make sense to hold the 3D until Dorothy opens the door of her house and steps out into Oz, just the way it already transitions then from black and white to color. If they really wanted to keep up the concept of added steps in cinematographic technology, they’d even hold the 3D a bit longer, maybe even until Emerald City (no one in Hollywood will agree with me there). Or, hey, as long […]

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Oz the Great and Powerful

We understand that no matter how much you love them, going out to the movies isn’t always the best choice. Sometimes there’s a huge storm that ravages the middle of the country and you’re just glad to have power enough to watch a DVD, let alone go outside to your local cineplex. Sometimes its just easier to not put on pants. Trust me, I know this better than most. Which is why we offer a weekly alternative. Through the magic of our Video On Demand Power Ranker, a custom-built supercomputer, we present a list of the best films you can see without even leaving the couch. This week, there’s sci-fi, magic, wonder and WikiLeaks.

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OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

After years of development, Disney managed to travel back over the rainbow with Oz the Great and Powerful. While it wasn’t the box office juggernaut that Alice in Wonderland was, it did bring a new version of L. Frank Baum’s classic books to the big screen. The colorful fantasy world that Sam Raimi shows in Oz the Great and Powerful is appealing to children of all ages, but more importantly, it looks crazy when you’ve been drinking. If you’re taking a trip back to Oz, have a few drinks of a different color and enjoy the ride.

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discs house of cards1

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. House of Cards: The Complete First Season Congressman Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is as ambitious as they come, but his drive to succeed includes more than simply doing the best job for the American people that he can. Instead he uses every opportunity to manipulate those around him towards outcomes favorable to his career. His wife (Robin Wright) shares a similar trait in her dealings. Together and separately the pair use their influence to shape their world, and while many other people are swept into their narrative only one will meet a tragic fate. Netflix officially entered the TV production game with this 13 episode redo of the classic UK series, and the result is a solidly entertaining, wonderfully acted look at our political animals at work. It has far less bite than its UK predecessor, and least in its first season, but the drama remains engaging. Creators David Fincher and Beau Willimon kept the original’s framework (albeit transplanted in time and space to modern day Washington D.C.), but they wisely chose not to mirror the characters instead leaving viewers with new creations and plenty of surprises. It’s a less salacious but smarter Boss for those of you familiar with Kelsey Grammer’s Starz series, and while Spacey and Wright rule the roost it boasts a spectacular supporting cast in Kate Mara, Michael Kelly, Corey Stoll and others. [DVD […]

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Short Starts typically presents a weekly short film from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. This week we present a short film from the start of a film property. Say what you will about Oz the Great and Powerful (I’m not a fan, but the $80 million gross implies some of you are), but you can’t dismiss it simply out of loyalty and preference for MGM’s The Wizard of Oz. That film may be a classic, but it’s far from being an original product that can be ruined by any remake, sequel or prequel. Sure, the new Oz strangely attempts to get away with as much visual linkage to the 1939 film as Disney could get away with, but it’s also just another in a very long list of adaptations of L. Frank Baum‘s children’s stories, which includes animated versions, Muppet versions and all-African-American versions, as well as silent incarnations going back more than a century, many of which involved Baum directly. The first cinematic treatment of Oz was in 1908, as part of a compilation of stories adapted from Baum’s books (including non-Oz works) titled The Fairylogue and Radio Plays. I don’t technically qualify the project as the first Oz movie because it only partly involved colorized film material in addition to slides and live performance, all wrapped up in a traveling stage show. Naturally, this means it doesn’t survive — also it was not financially successful, resulting in Baum’s bankruptcy in 1911, so that may be […]

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FILM JOCKEYS HEADER

What happens when a legendary film critic brings is geriatric crankiness to an internet movie show? Film Jockeys follows the adventures of Carl Barker, his far-too-young production staff, the filmmakers and the movie characters that inhabit their world. Written and illustrated by Derek Bacon, it’s the perfect webcomic for passionate movie fans who also love wearing CGI ruby slippers. For your consideration, Episode #13:

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review oz great powerful

Hollywood trend #74 goes like this. Pick a classic children’s tale that hasn’t been adapted in the past few years, say Alice in Wonderland or Snow White maybe, then build a new film around it that substitutes excessive CGI for imagination and physical comedy for characterization. Oh, and be sure to improve upon the source material by throwing in a big third-act battle between armies too. Anyway. Oz the Great and Powerful is a new look at a land we are all too familiar with thanks to L. Frank Baum’s books and a little movie called The Wizard of Oz. Director Sam Raimi‘s film predates Dorothy’s classic adventure to show how the wizard actually became the wizard in the first place, but just because it takes place in a magical world doesn’t guarantee a magical experience.

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Oz the Great and Powerful

This January and February lived up to their dumping ground stigma. We saw a few satisfying films here and there, but we also saw A Good Day to Die Hard. Brian Salisbury gave that movie a whooping, and he, along with other critics, could have been much harder on John Moore’s bland nightmare of a movie. The good news about this March, though: no movies directed by John Moore. Instead we’re seeing films from Park Chan-Wook, Sam Raimi, Derek Cianfrance, Harmony Korine, and Antoine Fuqua, directors a bit more trust-worthy. Even though Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen didn’t make the must-see list, it looks like a better Die Hard movie than the one we just endured. Without anymore further mention of A Good Day to Die Hard (seriously, I think I’m hung up on it), here are the five films to check out this month:

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Iron Man Extended Look

For many of us, the Super Bowl isn’t about the game so much as the party and the food and the commercials, especially the movie previews. As usual, this year gave us a mix of ads for films opening fairly soon and blockbusters arriving this summer. And as usual, some studios spent their dollars wisely while others didn’t, so there was also a mix of good and bad that will lead the buzz on these titles for at least the next couple days. After the jump we’ve listed all the movies advertised during Super Bowl  XLVII and categorized each as one of the winner or one of the losers of this annual Hollywood marketing game. 

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Oz the Great and Powerful Movie Poster

Sam Raimi‘s Oz: The Great and Powerful crashes down on audiences in March, and while we’ve already gotten a great look at the world they’ve built for it (while crossing our fingers that it won’t be an Alice in Wonderland clone), we haven’t been given a look at the villainous Wicked Witch of the West. It is, without a doubt and zero hyperbole, the biggest villain-based mystery of all the 2013 releases. Is she being played by Mila Kunis? By Rachel Weisz? By Benedict Cumberbatch? The production has kept it a relative secret — hiding Kunis and Weisz’s characters under new Ozian names (Theodora and Evanora respectively) and including them to varying degrees in the trailers, but the poster above looks an awful lot like Weisz in green make-up, and the stuff we’ve seen so far suggests her character just might lose it and turn to the dark side. Let’s all obsess about it until March, and in the meantime, enjoy this dramatic one sheet from Disney.

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Oz the Great and Powerful

If Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful ends up being another Alice in Wonderland-level exercise in style over substance, the parallels to its main character are going to be too obvious to dismiss. In the film, James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, a Kansas con-man magician who does tricks illusions and enjoys tricking illusioning people out of their coins. During a hot air balloon stunt, he’s pulled into a tornado and whisked away to the strange land of Oz where three good witches (played by Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams) implore him to rid the world of a wicked witch. The only problem? He only talks a big game, and he might not be able to deliver any real magic. The plot in its vague form mirrors The Wizard of Oz directly, and the look of the universe tries for the CGI expansiveness of Alice, but hopefully Sam Raimi has been able to make the movie his own. With a new trailer comes new hopes and concerns. It looks like a lot of fun, but some of the dialogue (and the delivery) sounds like first draft exposition. It’s also not hard to think of Franco as a bored actor at this point, and there’s nothing here to disabuse anyone of that notion. However, the callbacks to the 1939 classic are spot-on and exciting. Maybe this could be a real epic after all.

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Movie News: The Hobbit Posters

What is Movie News After Dark? It happens thrice times per week. It’s awesome. You can read it. Right now. We begin this evening’s marketing-heavy edition of Movie News After Dark with the absurdity of the day. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first in a new trilogy from Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, now has seventeen character posters that can be ogled. It’s a little much, even for what may turn out to be the biggest film of the year. Above you’ll see Dwalin, a badass dwarf. Just after the jump, Gandalf and his fall collection.

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The Great and Powerful Oz

There’s no doubt that Sam Raimi learned a lot (and proved a lot) about big budget filmmaking when he took on Spider-Man, so it will be interesting to see whether his particular brand of humor and action will translate well to the wonderful world called Oz. Oz the Great and Powerful is a promising project, but the images from it are doing a lot of work to raise expectations. They may say nothing about the story, but they ensure that the visual experience will be the closest thing to a gorgeous legal drug trip that we can get. Check out these 6 new images from the Disney flick:

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It’s been three years since a Sam Raimi film graced theaters and five since he’s had a box office hit (sorry, Drag Me to Hell), but he returns to the big screen next year with something substantially different than his usual fare. In fact, if the lead were Johnny Depp instead of James Franco you might be forgiven for thinking this was a Tim Burton joint. Oz the Great and Powerful is an upcoming Disney film that posits the origin of L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz (the man, not the story). Oscar Diggs (Franco) begins as a mediocre magician in the dustbowl of a black and white Kansas before boarding a hot-air balloon for an ill-fated ride into a tornado. The journey lands him in Oz where he comes face to face with creatures, people, three witches and technicolor. Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams play the three witches, and that’s really all the reason one needs to want to see the movie… Check out the trailer for Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful below.

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Right around the time that the 67th poster of two stars leaning back to back hits theater lobbies is when the pessimism about modern one sheet design starts to creep in. Fortunately, there’s always a handful of excellent posters dotting the year to keep hope alive. Thank you, Oz the Great and Powerful poster, for keeping hope alive:

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Like a Johnny Depp casting announcement for a Tim Burton movie, there’s no real surprise that Bruce Campbell is going to be in Sam Raimi‘s Oz: The Great and Powerful. The actor revealed as much through twitter on Thursday, stating: “I. Am. In. Oz. Sam Raimi refuses to tell me what character I will portray. Just know that the role is PIVOTAL.” That’s great news, especially for Campbell diehards, but his use of the word “pivotal,” (even in all caps!) should be taken with a huge chunk of salt. He made similar claims about his roles in the Spider-Man films, which turned out to little more than cameos, so don’t be surprised when he shows up as a man that sells Pivots to James Franco. But, who cares? It’s Bruce Campbell. Thus, it should be awesome.

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A fourth entry in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series is one of those long talked about, never going to happen, projects like an Arrested Development movie, or another Ghostbusters sequel that I’ve grown kind of tired of hearing about. I’ve been hearing the rumors about this movie since I was a teenager: Ash goes to the future, Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, it’s going to be in 3D, etc.  It’s gotten to the point that whenever the next set of rumors about a new Evil Dead crop up, I roll my eyes and move along. So it was not out of maliciousness, but out of rumor fatigue when I rolled my eyes at Dread Central’s claim that they had a “very reliable source” telling them that Saim Raimi’s frequent editor Bob Murawski was headed to Detroit to start work on a new Evil Dead film. They also had a quote that the new Evil Dead would be “a small indie thing like the first two.” Turns out I wasn’t the only one to be suspicious of these claims, because Bloody Disgusting did a little digging of their own and said they discovered that Raimi was actually casting his widely known next project Oz: The Great and Powerful in Detroit. That would make more sense, and would have ended my interest in the matter, if not for another little wrinkle. Ash himself, Bruce Campbell, recently opened a Twitter account and when asked point blank by one of his followers about the […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news round-up column that didn’t mean to take the night off last night, but was forced into it by some “internet connectivity issues.” Which means, plainly, that its internet provider sucks sometimes. And things happen. Like trains — sometimes they get blown up in small town in Ohio, unleashing unknown terrors upon small-town, late-70s folk. Shit happens, y’know? My confession of the evening is that I was able to see Super 8 this morning. Reviews are under embargo for now, so I can’t share too much, but know this: whatever level of excitement you hold for it, you’re probably on the right track. Moving on, but not too far, Empire has a great interview with producer Steven Spielberg and Spielberg Jr., director J.J. Abrams. You can check it out after the jump. It’s not spoilery, as Abrams is a good keeper of secrets. But if you want to go in completely untainted, skip ahead and there’s plenty of other news to read.

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There’s a decision coming up for John C. Reilly – an actor who’s being courted by two productions right now according to Vulture. One is the Raimi-directed Oz, The Great and Powerful which stars James Franco and wants Reilly as the wizard’s sidekick. The other is The Hunger Games, which is currently casting all living beings and wants Reilly to play a former champion named Haymitch Abernathy who has since lost his glory to the bottle and the aging process. Either would be great, because Reilly is, but joining The Hunger Games would be a sweet move back into the world of drama. Oz might be that as well, although playing the sidekick instead of the mentor seems a bit beyond him. What would be truly fantastic would be to see the man who nailed down parts in Magnolia and The Good Girl get a chance to showcase that talent again. He got stuck in the Ferrell-based comedy world for a number of years, and he’s shown signs of escaping that with indie dramedies like Cyrus and (oddly enough) a salty role as a foul-mouthed vampire in The Vampire’s Assistant. It would be pleasing to see him return to the dramatic world, and even if it’s aimed at the Young Adult crowd, playing a burnt out husk of a man who takes the young competitors (who face a true fight to the death) under his wing is a great start.

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