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REVIEW: OZ – THE GREAT & POWERFUL (PG) – by Gavin Miller

Despite trying to re-ignite the magic past generations had with timeless classic The Wizard of Oz this lacks the heart of the original.

For a family movie it does have its merits, including some beautiful computer-generated backdrops that bring the world of Oz to life for this generation, but it ends up as a muddling traipse down the infamous ‘yellow brick road’.

Despite his Oscar-nominated turn in 127 Hours, James Franco isn’t yet a strong enough leading man for a blockbuster of this magnitude.

Disney has undoubtedly tried to replicate the massive success of Alice from three years ago, but that had Johnny Depp, and despite an admirable effort Franco struggles to convince as small-time circus magician Oscar Diggs.

When he’s thrust from dusty Kansas into the fantastical land of Oz – just like Judy Garland’s character Dorothy in the 1939 film – Oscar is mistaken as the wizardous saviour to its harmless inhabitants, who are ruled by the Wicked Witch, when in fact he is more concerned about the riches he’ll inherit.

Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis, playing two of three witches who take Oscar under their wing, battle hard with the generic script that does nothing for their talents. Only Michelle Williams, in a princess by numbers type role, and Zach Braff (Scrubs, who voices brilliantly computer-generated winged-monkey Finley) really come away from the production unscathed.

It does have a throwback black-and-white opening like the original, and some of the scenery is simply luscious, but it somehow plays out in such a disjointed fashion that it ends up as a pretty joyless experience. If you want a magical journey down the ‘yellow brick road’ buy a copy of the Garland original. Rating: 2/5