Oz the Great and Powerful appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc – mostly. The first 20 minutes, 35 seconds offer windowboxed 1.33:1 footage; when we get to 20:35, the image expands to fill the sides of the 2.39:1 frame. (The black and white movie also goes to color at that point.)
Across the board, the image looked great. Sharpness was consistently excellent, as the flick always displayed strong clarity and accuracy. If any softness materialized, it escaped me; I found a tight image here. I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes were absent. Of course, print flaws failed to mar the presentation.
Director Sam Raimi chose to offer a palette that emulated the Technicolor scope of the 1939 film, and that meant this Oz boasted awesome colors. I can’t remember the last movie I saw with such eye-popping hues, as they virtually leapt off the screen. Blacks were dark and deep, and low-light shots showed nice clarity and smoothness. This became a simply scrumptious visual presentation.
I also felt pleased with the dynamic DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Oz. Like the visuals, the audio remained restrained for the first act; the surrounds kicked in during the twister, so they opened up a little before the image expanded/went to color, but not much earlier.
Once the track went to all the side/rear channels, it delivered an exciting affair. The twister itself packed a terrific punch, and the rest of the flick came with more than enough theatrics to give us a lively soundscape. All the channels received an excellent workout, with lots of material appropriately located in the side/back speakers. The elements meshed smoothly and created a terrific sense of place and action. Various battle scenes offered the most pizzazz, but the whole package fared well.
Audio quality satisfied. Music was dynamic and rich, with good clarity and punch. Effects came across as accurate and full; expect strong punch from the louder elements. Speech also seemed distinctive and natural. The movie delivered an immersive and impressive soundtrack.
Though the movie did very well financially, the Blu-ray doesn’t pack a ton of extras. Walt Disney and the Road to Oz runs 10 minutes, 13 seconds and provides comments from filmmaker/historian Les Perkins, Disney historian/author Howard Green, historian Greg Ehbar, and original Mouseketeers Doreen Tracey and Bobby Burgess. They discuss Disney’s interest in the Oz books, various aborted projects like The Rainbow Road to Oz and some realized releases. This quick overview includes a mix of good notes, and the Mickey Mouse Club clips make it more valuable.
We visit with the movie’s lead with My Journey in Oz by James Franco. In this 21-minute, 43-second piece, the actor chats with director Sam Raimi, production designer Robert Stromberg, puppeteer Phillip Huber, and co-stars Michelle Raimi, Mila Kunis and Zach Braff. (Franco himself also adds remarks.) We get notes about the script and adaptation of the Baum books, cast, characters and performances, set design, effects, and some other areas.
While “Journey” doesn’t act as a thorough behind the scenes piece, it works better than I’d expected from a sort of “production diary”. Franco works as a pretty good interviewer, and we get a nice overview of topics along with useful footage from the shoot. “Journey” functions as a satisfying piece.
For the five-minute, 26-second China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief, we get material from Braff, Stromberg, Huber, visual effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk, actor Joey King, costume designer Michael Kutsche, and special makeup effects creator Howard Berger. We learn about the techniques used to bring the China Girl to life in this short but informative featurette.
Next comes Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas to Oz. It lasts 11 minutes, two seconds and features Stromberg, Raimi, Franco, Stokdyk, Kunis, Williams, Braff, Franco, producer Joe Roth, executive producer Grant Curtis, and actor Rachel Weisz. We learn about visual design, sets and effects. This becomes another solid little piece.
Mila’s Metamorphosis fills seven minutes, 43 seconds with info from Kunis, Berger, Raimi and costume designer Gary Jones. We learn about the design of the Theodora character and the methods used to achieve that look. While we hear good notes, the footage of Berger and Kunis as he applies the makeup becomes the best aspect of the show.
For the final featurette, we get Mr. Elfman’s Musical Concoctions. It occupies seven minutes, 13 seconds with notes from composer Danny Elfman as he discusses his relationship with Raimi and his work on Oz. Elfman proves to be a fun interview subject and he delivers a quality take on his music.
A set of Bloopers lasts five minutes, six seconds. In it, we see mostly the usual goofs and giggles. A few of these let us glimpse some behind the scenes footage, though, and those are interesting.
Under the banner of Second Screen, we find a different kind of picture-in-picture program, as it requires an external device to work; you’re need to synchronize the Blu-ray to your computer or your iPad.
Normally I don’t review anything that requires an external connection; that’s why I’ve never touched on BD-Live, as I prefer only to discuss content that actually exists on the Blu-ray itself. Some prior Second Screen-enabled Blu-rays offered a “dumbed down” version that worked as a form of picture-in-picture commentary, but that doesn’t happen here, so if you don’t activate the computer/iPad aspect, you’re out of luck.
The disc opens with ads for The Lone Ranger, Once Upon a Time, and The Little Mermaid. Sneak Peeks adds promos for Iron Man 3 and the Disney Infinity video game. No trailer for Oz appears here.
A second disc delivers a DVD copy of Oz. This includes the “Walt Disney” featurette and the bloopers but none of the other extras.
Oz the Great and Powerful won’t make anyone forget The Wizard of Oz, but it doesn’t try to replace the 1939 classic. Instead, it offers its own riff on the characters and situations, and it does so in a fun, creative manner. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture and audio along with a decent batch of bonus materials. I remain disappointed we don’t find a more extensive roster of supplements, but the Blu-ray reproduces the movie in fine fashion.