Metascore
44

Mixed or average reviews - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 42
  2. Negative: 10 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    Mar 4, 2013
    80
    If there are post-Harry Potter children who don’t know or care about The Wizard of Oz, they might be at sea with this story about a not-very-nice grownup in a magic land, but long-term Oz watchers will be enchanted and enthralled. There’s even a musical number, albeit an abbreviated one. Mila Kunis gets a gold star for excellence in bewitchery and Sam Raimi can settle securely behind the curtain as a mature master of illusion.
  2. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Mar 10, 2013
    75
    It's familiar enough to be comfortable but not so familiar that it feels worn and repetitive.
  3. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Mar 7, 2013
    75
    That's why the more you like the Judy Garland film, the more you might appreciate Oz the Great and Powerful. Appreciate. Enjoy. Admire. Be glad to see. Have fun with ... But as for love - well, love will be harder to come by.
  4. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Mar 7, 2013
    75
    Most of the time, though, it's a confusing mishmash featuring a fine actor too willfully operating outside his comfort zone.
  5. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Mar 6, 2013
    75
    Nothing in it comes close to the magic, the originality or the everlasting entertainment value of the original, which only cost $2.777 million and didn’t use a single computer-generated graphic. This says more about how much better movies were in 1939 than they are today. Still, I had enough fun to predict that history (or at least a tiny piece of it) seems destined to repeat itself. People just can’t get enough of this stuff.
  6. 75
    The cast, plainly packed with second or third choices, lets it down. Is there anything in James Franco’s past that suggests larger-than-life, a fast-talking, womanizing con-man? And the three witches – Theodora, Evanora and Glinda – are Bland, Blander and Blond Bland.
  7. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Mar 5, 2013
    75
    Raimi manages to keep things engaging, which is a very real act of wizardry in and of itself.
  8. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Mar 7, 2013
    67
    It took brains to create such a sumptuous fantasia with pixels and keyboard swipes. Now, if it only had a heart.
  9. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Mar 6, 2013
    67
    Oz the Great and Powerful vacillates between visual wonders and earthbound duds. Is there enough here to make viewers believe? Most probably. Even though the film has no ruby slippers, we all know there’s no place like home.
  10. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Mar 7, 2013
    63
    As a series of sights, which movies like these are, Oz the Great and Powerful is more like "Oz the Digital and Relentless." Certainly this is true in its final half-hour, which seemed to me to be all explosions.
  11. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Mar 6, 2013
    63
    Some of the surprises in Oz the Great and Powerful, the much-anticipated "Wizard of Oz" origins movie, are delightful. Others, however, sink the movie just below the point of recommendation, with the primary drawback falling on the lovely shoulders of Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis, as early versions of Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West, respectively.
  12. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Mar 8, 2013
    60
    Oz the Great and Powerful tells the story of how the Wizard came to Oz, answering a question I suspect no one was asking, but with considerable digital wizardry.
  13. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Mar 8, 2013
    60
    Is all of that to say that Oz the Great and Powerful comes even close to matching the timeless, iconic stature of 1939's "The Wizard of Oz"? No, of course not. That's not just a once-in-a-lifetime cultural phenomenon, but a once-in-many-liftimes one.
  14. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Mar 8, 2013
    60
    Whether you like this movie may depend very materially on how you respond to Franco himself, but I found his casting very astute.
  15. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Mar 7, 2013
    60
    Sometimes sweet, sometimes scary, sometimes sour, Oz the Great and Powerful is a film that doesn't know its own mind. A partially effective jumble whose elements clash rather than cohere, this solid but not spectacular effort stubbornly refuses to catch fire until it's almost too late.
  16. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Mar 6, 2013
    60
    It’s an earnest hope, to be sure, and the greatest strength of Sam Raimi’s imaginative, if highly uneven, take on L. Frank Baum’s series of children’s stories about that magical land over the rainbow is its unabashed sincerity.
  17. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Mar 6, 2013
    60
    This trip isn’t so notable. It’s not bad. Some bits are enjoyable. But ultimately, other than some genuinely impressive visuals, it never makes a compelling-enough case to justify its existence.
  18. Reviewed by: Neil Smith
    Mar 1, 2013
    60
    A lavishly mounted re-telling that, for all its good intentions and visual wonders, can’t help seeming surplus to requirements.
  19. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Mar 1, 2013
    60
    This elaborate exercise in visual Baum-bast nonetheless gets some mileage out of its game performances, luscious production design and the unfettered enthusiasm director Sam Raimi brings to a thin, simplistic origin story.
  20. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Mar 10, 2013
    58
    What we get here is Oz the Amiable and Unthreatening.
  21. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Mar 8, 2013
    58
    Raimi’s film is supposed to be about magic, but magic is in scant supply.
  22. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Mar 6, 2013
    58
    Much of Oz The Great And Powerful’s fate is tied to James Franco’s performance as Oz, and the center barely holds, with Franco often looking as overwhelmed by the task as he was by his hosting job on Oscar night.
  23. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Mar 6, 2013
    58
    The film is stuffed with three endings too many. You can't blame Raimi for wanting to give us our money's worth. But after a while, you just want him to get to the Happily Ever After already.
  24. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Mar 8, 2013
    50
    The more suitably antic Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp were considered for the part before Franco wandered into the picture with his stoner grin.
  25. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Mar 7, 2013
    50
    Saying that Raimi’s trip to Oz is adequate eye candy with a good heart isn’t the same thing as saying it’s actually good. I was charmed at some moments, profoundly bored by others and almost never felt genuinely excited or emotionally engaged.
  26. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Mar 7, 2013
    50
    Which is precisely what’s missing from Oz the Great and Powerful: that sense of emotional journey.
  27. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Mar 7, 2013
    50
    There's no Judy Garland songs, no Scarecrow, no Tin Man, no Cowardly Lion. There's also no simplicity, no magic, no truth.
  28. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Mar 7, 2013
    50
    Raimi, who launched his career with the cheapo horror mini-masterpiece "The Evil Dead" before helming the blockbuster "Spider-Man" trilogy, can’t infuse the story with much verve or joy.
  29. Reviewed by: Kevin Jagernauth
    Mar 1, 2013
    50
    A valiant attempt to build on the magic of “The Wizard Of Oz,” and while it certainly doesn’t diminish the standing of that movie, Sam Raimi’s film provides proof that the more we know about the mysteries of our favorite stories, the less interesting they become.
  30. 40
    Aside from a trio of witches that can hold its own with Eastwick’s in the dishiness department, Oz the Great and Powerful is a peculiarly joyless occasion.
  31. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Mar 8, 2013
    40
    A visually over-crammed, emotionally empty mega-spectacle on the model of Tim Burton’s "Alice in Wonderland."
  32. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Mar 1, 2013
    40
    A miscast James Franco and a lack of charm and humor doom Sam Raimi's prequel to the 1939 Hollywood classic. Oz the Wimpy and Weak would be more like it.
  33. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Mar 18, 2013
    30
    At the center of the movie, in place of the ardent, emotionally pulverizing Judy Garland, there is James Franco...as he smirks and winks, his reflexive self-deprecation comes off as a gutless kind of cool, and it sinks this odd, fretful, uncertain movie like a boulder. [18 March 2013, p.86]
  34. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Mar 7, 2013
    30
    Oz the Great and Powerful, like so many products of movie studios that have lost their way, is a Tin Man of epic proportions — bright and shiny, with no heart.
  35. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Mar 5, 2013
    30
    Oz tilts towards the mawkish, as the sham wizard learns the value of selflessness and an incessant Danny Elfman score tugs so shamelessly at your tear ducts that it would make the Tin Man surrender his heart on the spot.
  36. 25
    Unfortunately, it has the model of the 1939 film to remind us how lacking in delight this version is.
  37. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Mar 7, 2013
    25
    About the movie industry’s misguided belief that it can distract the audience from a film’s narrative weaknesses with little more than flash and spectacle. That con might have worked with the rubes once upon a time, but in case Hollywood hasn’t noticed, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
  38. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Mar 7, 2013
    25
    Oz the Great and Powerful is an oppressive, bloated bore.
  39. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Mar 6, 2013
    25
    Save your money and wait for the new 3-D version of the 1939 classic that Warner Bros. has promised for later this year.
  40. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Mar 7, 2013
    20
    Can the major studios still make magic? From the looks of Oz the Great and Powerful, a dispiriting, infuriating jumble of big money, small ideas and ugly visuals, the answer seems to be no — unless, perhaps, the man behind the curtain is Martin Scorsese or James Cameron.
  41. Reviewed by: Calum Marsh
    Mar 5, 2013
    12
    An amorphous melange of ill-fitting reference points and misappropriated aesthetics, a lumbering family blockbuster both tiresome and wholly indistinct.
  42. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Mar 7, 2013
    0
    Don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors. There is nothing here that is great, or powerful. Worst of all, there’s nothing here that even feels like Oz.
User Score
6.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 437 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 92 out of 150
  2. Negative: 35 out of 150
  1. Mar 8, 2013
    1
    It's March and there is finally a film released in 2013 that I was looking forward to going to the theater and watching. My expectations for this film were not super high, I certainly would never expect it to live up to the original which is one of the greatest films of all time. I expected a respectable origin story, great visuals, and maybe a few easter eggs thrown in for fans of the original. With Raimi directing two of the better young actors working today, and two other more than capable actresses I didn't feel that my expectations were too high. I was blown away...with how poorly this film turned out.

    In two hours plus there is no story here that we don't already know from the original material, none, the screen writing couldn't possibly have been lazier. The acting is bad, soap opera bad. Some may possibly give Franco or Williams a pass because of the material. However no one will give Kunis a pass when she is transformed into the wicked witch of the west. If you need a reminder of how an over the top stereotypical witch should be played go back and watch a few minutes of Margaret Hamilton's version.

    There are several new characters introduced, as expected and as there should be. Unfortunately not one of them worked. Some are introduced for humor, some to tug at the heart strings, and some for plot devices. Not one of them is effective, and none of them are memorable.

    Probably most disappointing of all were the visuals of the film. I know the 1939 version probably doesn't actually look better, but the fact that I had that thought several times during the course of the movie gives you a glimpse into how poor the visuals were. The only exception was the opening credits and first 20 minutes of the film. All this was the black and white portion of the movie. These are the only moments where it is not obvious that the actors are on a sound stage going through the motions.

    The Wizard Of Oz was perfect family entertainment. Whimsical, humorous, frightening, and endearing. The characters were one dimensional, yes, but they were fun and we cared about them. Oz The Great And Powerful is none of these things. All I wanted was a glimpse back into aspects of the original. Instead I received my worst theater experience since Spiderman 3. Wait who was responsible for that one?
    Full Review »
  2. Mar 11, 2013
    8
    First off, what is with the hate on James Franco? He performed just fine! The film is actually better than it had any right to be, and in some respects, it makes the 1939 film even better. The film looks great too. The visuals look really colorful and beautiful. The clever twists at the end are just the icing on the cake Full Review »
  3. Mar 9, 2013
    8
    This film is a pleasant surprise. Unlike other fairy tale movies like both Snow White movies and Alice in Wonderland, this film has characters you care about. James Franco does a solid job as Oz, but it's the supporting cast, (like Zach Braff's Finley the monkey and a little adorable china doll) that makes this film an enjoyable ride. Full Review »