The Wizard of Oz was a groundbreaking movie in its time, from the visuals to the psychological elements.  Its prequel Oz the Great and Powerful feels much more traditional and familiar -- but it's still entertaining.
Like its predecessor, Oz the Great and Powerful begins in a black-and-white Kansas.  Oz (James Franco) is a circus magician with a flair for the theatric, an incredible cheapness, harsh treatment of his assistant Frank (Zach Braff), and a clear womanizer.  Oz dreams of greatness, and he seems to get the chance when an escape in a hot air balloon leads him to a twister -- and the magical, colorful, fanciful world of Oz.
Upon arriving, Oz is greeted by Theodora (Mila Kunis), who believes that Oz is the great and powerful wizard prophesized to free the kindgom  from the Wicked Witch.  Oz knows he's not a wizard, but the prospect of the massive fortune in the Emerald City tempts him too much, and he's soon promoting himself as the wizard who was foretold.  Royal advisor Evanora (Rachel Weisz) has her doubts about Oz's truthfulness, Theodora seems to have fallen for the rogue's romantic charms, and Glinda (Michelle Williams) knows Oz's flaws but still believes he can save the kingdom.  Oz also has traveling companions in his quest to steal the Wicked Witch's wand: Finley (Braff again), a winged monkey pledged to serve Oz; and China Girl (Joey King), a small-but-spunky child made of fragile China.
Oz the Great and Powerful has a mix of strengths and weaknesses.  The visuals are stunning, from the magical landscape to the unusual creatures (not to mention the new-but-familiar versions of the elements from the first film).  There are also some surprises in store, such as the identity of the Wicked Witch?  At the same time, there's a pretty one-dimensional side to the characters, and while they're all decent in their roles, there's also no real depth to any characters.

Still, Oz the Great and Powerful may not be a classic but it is an enjoyable (if slight) fantasy.  This is a movie that's easy to enjoy, if easy to forget afterwards.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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